City Pushes Back Against EPA on Gowanus Storage Tanks

There is a new wrinkle to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to put massive storage tanks under the Thomas Greene Playground and Douglass Degraw Pool in Gowanus. Not only are neighbors up in arms but the City agrees. The agency wants to install the 8-million-gallon tanks to handle the massive sewage overflow that can run into the Gowanus canal following a heavy rain — as it infamously did when it was caught on video in 2010. The overflow would then be pumped to treatment plants, reducing the wastewater flow into the canal by as much as 78 percent. Residents are against the plan because of the possible lengthy closure of the pool and park and concern about little ones cavorting over massive storage tanks full of raw sewage. But, according to The Brooklyn Paper, the City contends that raw sewage isn’t the canal’s main problem (that is one polluted site when raw sewage isn’t the main problem). Instead it’s the coal tar, a carcinogen left behind by industrial polluters that has sunk as much as 150 feet beneath the bed of the canal. The City says it can reduce waste water runoff by 45 percent by reopening one wastewater treatment facility and creating 600 curbside gardens designed to soak up rainwater. It’s unclear whether the EPA would allow this, and it could take the City to court if they refuse to implement its storage tank plan.
City Defies Feds Says It Won’t Build Gowanus Sewage Storage [Brooklyn Paper]
Gowanus Cleanup Threatens Nearby Swimming Pool [Brownstoner]
Feds May Bury Sewage Tank Beneath Gowanus Pool [Brownstoner]
The Gowanus Gets Nasty [Brownstoner]
Photo by The NY Escapist

4 Comment

  • Here’s an idea: dam the canal at 3rd Street and make the portion from 3rd up to Butler into a storage system for storm water runoff. Then cover it and turn it into a greenspace or High Line-like park. Everyone calls the canal an “open sewer”. Well, just change the “open” part.

  • that’s the red hook pool, not the Double “D”

  • There must be another place to put these tanks other than under this park. I don’t think that the tanks, if installed, would be a hazard to bathers; but it would mean no pool or park for local kids for many years. I have not heard any estimates for how long this project would take, but my guess would be 3 to 5 years. That’s a lot of hot summers with no pool for these, mostly poor kids.

  • The pool has to be dug up anyway because there is coal tar contamination beneath it. Once it’s dug up, it shouldn’t take much longer to add the tanks beneath the restored pool. Temporary barge pools can be used during the two months of the year that pools are needed. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Gowanus didn’t smell like sewage after a rain?