DEP Aims to Reduce Gowanus Stink

By Paul DeBenedetto
|  Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011  |  Updated 7:29 AM EDT
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DEP Aims to Reduce Gowanus Stink

WNBC

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The city's Department of Environmental Protection has a plan that it says could reduce the well-known stink that surrounds the Gowanus Canal.

The aim is to install green infrastructure and vegetation designed to soak up some of the rain water that floods the neighborhood's sewage system.

Rain barrels would also be put in place to collect the water. It's part of a larger initiative being pushed by the department, called the Green Infrastructure Plan, which focuses on improving water quality throughout the city.

According to the website of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to restoring the canal, there are three main sources of pollution in the canal.

One is industrial pollution from factories that used to inhabit the neighborhood, which dumped waste directly into the water. Another source is surface runoff from contaminants on the streets.

The third source, "combined sewer overflows," are what give the canal its signature stench and is what the program is targeting. It was first reported by the Brooklyn Paper.

During a heavy storm, like last year's tornado, the rainwater runoff from the sewage system overflows and makes its way directly into the canal.

The department estimates that adding green infrastructure will reduce those overflows by about 35 tons a year. That translates to 10 percent of sewage systems in the area, a figure that's touted by the DEP and its commissioner Cas Holloway, but that some in the neighborhood say isn't enough.

“At the very best, it can solve 10 percent of the problem, so I am a little surprised that he’s here talking about the 10-percent solution instead of talking about the 90-pecent solution,” Gowanus resident Steven Miller told the Brooklyn paper. “We need to talk about the 90-percent solution.

The canal, which was last year declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency, is undergoing an additional 10-year clean-up mandated by the EPA.

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