First came the factories. Then, decay and abandonment followed by an alphabet soup of toxic waste and three-eyed fish (maybe). Now, one nonprofit has plans to transform the Gowanus Canal, one of the country's sickliest waterways, into a park and ecological corridor for western Brooklyn. Last night the Gowanus Canal Conservancy unveiled its verdant vision for Gowanus Canal–adjacent areas of Brooklyn. In collaboration with New York's SCAPE Landscape Architecture, the group's Gowanus Lowlands: A Blueprint for NYC’s Next Great Park outlines possible plans for a park along the waterway in anticipation of a master plan that will be developed over the next six to nine months. For those who don't know, the entire 1.8-mile Gowanus Canal is a Superfund site, a heavily polluted channel that cuts through the tony neighborhoods of Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, as well as Red Hook and Gowanus. In lieu of the raw sewage and malodorous trash that currently dot the waterway, Lowlands imagines boaters and picnics, performance venues and cafes, and other amusements set between attractive walking paths and arrays of native flora that will knit neighborhoods together. Grassy hills and meadows will line the edge of the canal, while mitigation basins, bioswales, and sponge gardens will filter runoff and provide habitat for local wildlife. The plan was developed with neighbors' input over the past two years, and this year the Conservancy hired SCAPE to develop the Lowlands idea. The plan dialogues with the Canal's Superfund cleanup, local and state environmental remediation efforts, as well as a potential city rezoning that could encourage more development.
Posts tagged with "Gowanus Canal Conservancy":
The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn is notorious for its filth. Normally a sure fire way to contract dysentery, cancer and arsenic poisoning, the canal is now the subject of study from a diverse collaborative effort: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, biotech nonprofit GenSpace, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, and data visualizers Landscape Metrics. Called the BK BioReactor, the undertaking employs a small autonomous watercraft that samples waters throughout the infamous canal (an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund site). The researchers set out to catalog its microbial communities before the canal undergoes dredging and sub-aquatically capping as part of the Superfund cleanup later this year. https://vimeo.com/156573571 Why the Gowanus? The team aims to discover new microorganisms "unique to the urban realm." With many urban areas facing similar pollution challenges, there may be important lessons to be learned. "The Gowanus Canal is an incubator for the evolution of such bioremediating functions, attesting to its industrial past and its capacity for self-renewal," they stated. To carry out the task, the group are using the BK BioReactor: a mobile watercraft that takes samples and stops at 14 "Smart Docks" throughout the canal. The craft measures "water temperature, pH, salinity, and dissolved oxygen; and most importantly grant researchers and citizen scientists access to the microbiome below the cleanup cap. Subsequently, an interactive microbiological map has been produced, locating all the different microorganisms, the vast majority of which are bacteria. However, in some parts of the canal, large quantities of the siphoviridae virus family can be found. For those wondering, this is not linked to syphilis (which the canal has been associated with). That's not to say the findings were in any way healthy however. "Many of the species identified in preliminary samplings are also found in the human gut (a result of raw sewage) while other species reveal influence of the canal’s proximity to the ocean," the group said. "Regardless of their source, the microbial melting pot of the canal has fine-tuned its metabolism, swapping genes with neighboring communities and evolving novel functions to develop real-time strategies for the unique state of the canal." https://vimeo.com/156590188 Other substances discovered included:
- Cresol, a toxic substance that in humans can damage the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, blood, liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
- Arsenic, known to cause kidney damage and failure anemia and low blood pressure
- Toluene, can cause insomnia and liver and kidney damage
- Atrazine, a herbicide known to damage endocrine system in amphibians
- Aniline, probably the most scary, is used in dyes and plastics production. It is "classified as very toxic in humans", with a probable oral lethal dose in humans at a very low level.
You won't be able to drink from it anytime soon, but the fetid, toxic shores of the Gowanus Canal will soon be graced with a new park that filters stormwater as it enters the canal. Designed by Brooklyn's dlandstudio in partnership with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park will be an 18,000 square foot public space on city-owned land, where Second Street meets the canal. Due to the canal's Superfund status, multiple federal, state, and city agencies are involved in environmental remediation, on and offshore (see diagram below). The $1.5 million project is publicly and privately funded: New York-based Lightstone Group will bankroll a boat launch for the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club. The developers are planning a 700 unit residential high rise adjacent to the park. Initiated in 2008, the project stalled for seven years as funding was secured. dlandstudio chose plants for their ability to filter out biological toxins from sewage, heavy metals, and other pollutants that overwhelm the canal, especially when it rains. Floating wetlands adjacent to shore will filter runoff further. Due to the canal's Superfund status, multiple federal, state, and city agencies are involved in environmental remediation, on and offshore (see diagram above). The first phase of the park is expected to open early 2016. State and local officials plan for the Sponge Park to be part of a network of green space that will mitigate flood risk while cleaning incoming stormwater.
It has been several years in the making, but now the industrial strip along Brooklyn's polluted Gowanus Canal will finally be transformed into a lush and porous green space aptly named The Gowanus Canal Sponge Park that will soak up and filter rainwater to help improve the overall water quality along the waterway. This $1.5 million project, a collaboration between the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and landscape architecture firm dlandstudio, will finally get off the ground with the help of city, state, and federal funding. While a full esplanade was initially planned for the 1.8-mile stretch along the EPA Superfund site, Bloomberg recently announced that the city's first step will be a scaled-down park right where the canal intersects with Second Street. The park takes its name from its "working landscape." Dlandstudio plans on using plants and soils to soak up toxins and heavy metals from the water. The firm will also employ strategies to reroute storm water run-off to keep the sewer system from overflowing and spilling back into the mucky canal. Floating wetlands will also be implemented to absorb contaminants and toxins from sewage. The Daily News reported that the city plans on breaking ground on the park by 2014, and hopes to open it to the public by summer of 2015.