Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Volunteers Fish Crap From Gowanus Canal

We saw an email yesterday asking the Sanitation Department to do a trash pickup at 2nd Street and the Gowanus Canal. This is because volunteers appear to have picked up 1,500 pounds of trash and debris (about 50 bags) during a volunteer cleanup on Sunday (4/22) that was part of the 8th Annual Gowanus Earth Day Flotilla Spring Clean-up sponsored by The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy . Now for the fun part:
This year's most common trash collected from the water were sanitary items commonly disposed from our toilets; an indicator that there are excessive Combine Sewage Overflows in the Gowanus Canal, particularly after this noreaster. There are more than 12 points along the Gowanus Canal that discharge raw, untreated sewage into the canal after every rainfall. CSOs occurences happen when our waste treatment system gets inundated by excess amounts of water during heavy rainfall. As this causes our waste treatment plant to fill to capacity, excess stormwater as well as what we flush from our toilets, which incidentally uses the same outflow pipe ( thus Combined Sewage), gets discharged directly into the Gowanus Canal.

Solving the CSO discharge problem on the Gowanus Canal is a key component to its ecological restoration and improving water quality. CSOs discharge more pathogens ( disease causing bacteria) in the Gowanus Canal, than any non-point source pollution. Trash from the paved streets and parking lot that run-off with stormwater into the canal is the other source of environmental impact. Run-Off is another major pollution issue on the Gowanus Canal that is very feasible to resolve today. As the Gowanus Canal is a flood zone, planting as many paved surfaces where possible would help retain much> of flood water from our homes and businesses; in> essence this would create a green buffer zone between land-use and this natural resource that is part of our estuary. As we are beginning to experience the effects of climate change on our coastal region, these are signs that flooding that is already a problem in the Gowanus watershed will only get worst.
"Sanitary items disposed from our toilets." We can only assume that byproduct of the flushes was there too. Check out the Urban Divers, who sent out the message by clicking here.

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