Gowanus Canal to be flushed with millions of gallons of fresh water

It's taken four years to the city to reactive a tunnel to flush millions of gallons of fresh water into the toxic Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.  Credit: Getty Images
It’s taken four years to the city to reactive a tunnel to flush millions of gallons of fresh water into the toxic Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.
Credit: Getty Images

It’s taken four years to the city to reactive a tunnel to flush millions of gallons of fresh water into the toxic Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.

Even so, locals are relieved that the city took care in how it addressed both the polluted waterway and its resiliency after Superstorm Sandy.

“I can’t stress how eager we are to see this project be complete,” said Craig R. Hammerman, district manager for the local community board.

“We’re happy that [the city is] taking a cautious approach since it can have serious impact on the community,” he added.

The flushing tunnel was shut down for repairs in 2010, not long after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named the two-mile-long, man-made Gowanus Canal a superfund site after years of industrial pollution and stagnant waters.

“The $177 million upgrade of the flushing tunnel is a significant milestone in the city’s efforts to improve the health and cleanliness of the Gowanus Canal,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd said in a statement.

The tunnel itself is some 1.2 miles long and 12 feet in diameter with a brick-lined interior. Both its rehabilitation and the activation of three turbine pumps means 252 million gallons of oxygenated water will wash pollutants through the Carrol Gardens, Park Slope and Red Hood neighborhoods the canal runs through.

Since its closure four years ago and after Sandy pushed the canal’s waters into city streets, the city extended it work to flood proof the tunnel, pump station and surrounding buildings.

Lloyd also said that the city would soon finish an upgrade to a nearby wastewater pump station and begin installation of curbside gardens within the canal’s adjacent neighborhoods — all to improve its water quality.

“The city is really pushing hard on a number of fronts” Hammerman said, “and we’re thankful for it.”

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


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