Tuesday, May 15, 2018

We Must Pay Attention: D.E.P. To Hold Meeting For Community To Review Design For Gowanus Canal CSO Facility

I am encouraging begging everyone to attend a very important community meeting sponsored by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and Council Member Stephen Levin on Thursday, May 17, 2018 to review the proposed design for the Gowanus Canal Combined Sewage Overflow facility at the head of the canal at Butler Street.

Why is this meeting important?

You may remember that D.E.P. is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to build an 8-million gallon sewage retention tank at the head-end of the Gowanus Canal as part of the Superfund clean-up to reduce the volume of untreated wastewater entering the waterway

D.E. P. has taken the requirement for a simple tank to a whole new level by over-designing, over-complicating, and over-spending with uncommon zeal for an agency that has happily allowed the canal to be used as an open sewer for decades and lobbied against the Gowanus Canal being declared a Superfund by E.P.A..

The cost of this tank has spiraled out of control. E.P.A. had estimated the cost of both the 8-million gallon and the cost for a smaller 4-million gallon in the middle section of the Canal at $77 million for both.
Because of D.E.P.'s insistance that the the 8-million gallon tank be constructed on private property instead of City-owned parkland as E.P.A. had suggested, the price tag has mushroomed.  D.E.P. has estimated the cost for land acquisition at $90 million alone, with an additional $400 million for the construction of the tank.
At a City Council hearing in March 2018, Kevin Clarke of D.E.P. spoke of a combined cost of $1.2 billion for both tanks.

Now, that is a crazy amount of money, prompting many in the community to wonder what D.E.P. is actually building: a simple retention tank or, as one local resident expressed, the Taj Mahal of sewer treatment facilities.

Now, keep in mind, the E.P.A. will have lots to say on the final design of the Gowanus facility at the head of the canal . However, the meeting on Thursday gives the community an opportunity to ask some real questions regarding run-away cost,  necessity of such an over-designed facility, the
protection of the iconic Gowanus Station building, a sweet old indutstrial brick structure situated on the project site and which D.E.P. wants to demolish despite calls from Gowanus residents to incorporate it into the final design. More broadly, we can ask what we actually get in return.

Lastly, it gives Gowanus residents a chance to ask D.E.P. about its other facility upgrade across from the canal: The Gowanus Canal Pumping Station and Flushing Tunnel that seems to be plagued by major design flaws. Since the station and the tunnel were put back into service a few years ago, massive amounts of foam has been created at the head of the canal. It is so bad, that the community has dubbed it the Gowanus"Cappuccino effect".
There is even foam oozing out of one of the buildings. And then there is the strange run-off that flows out of the pumping station.

Gowanus history should have taught us by now that D.E.P. has been more than negligent here in our community.  Let us ask the hard questions on Thursday's meeting. I will be there. Hope you will be there, too.

Below, a few photos of the Gowanus Cappuccino foam and strange leaks from the Gowanus Pumping Station, taken a few days ago.



Anonymous said...

Seeing these current results of the DEP's most recently "finished" Gowanus project at the Flushing Tunnel, the only thing that is made clear (because it the water certainly isn't) is that the community is much better off with the EPA engineers having the final decision on design and oversight of the Superfund sewage detention tanks.

Those recent photos of the Canal are gross, just gross. And this is what DEP "designed & built" gets us? And at what cost was that project?

Agnes said...

Shakespeare's HAMLET "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" comes to mind. And the powers that be (City) used the pool as the Trojan Horse - that the community needed the pool (that has to be dug up anyway to remove the toxic migrating tar beneath it). It has been interesting to watch this evolve, aided by "community groups" such as the Fifth Ave Committee, Friends of Douglas Park. So rotten, corrupt - what's the REAL story here - because what we are getting makes no sense. How this has become so overblown in scale and taxpayer dollar cost.

Anonymous said...

The $1.2B cost is primarily because the proposed design includes a soundproof phone booth so the EPA can make calls when visiting Gowanus.

Katia said...

Sorry, took me a while, but get it now. Actually very funny.