Friday, July 27, 2007

The Gowanus in the Rain

Why, you might ask, is this picture interesting? Our answer: Because it shows what happens to the Gowanus Canal every time it rains as countless hundreds of thousands of gallons of stormwater runoff and untreated sewage flow directly into the canal. This photo and the pics in this flickr set were shot by Raymond Tan and posted by Gowanus Canal on flickr, aka Ellie Hanlon of the Gowanus Dredgers. The Dredgers have taken an active role in trying to get the Gowanus cleaned up so that, someday, you can use it and not have to go to the emergency room if you fall in. The shot above was taken at the Third Street Bridge, which is adjacent to the site where Whole Foods will build its Gowanus store. Ms. Hanlon writes of the photos:
These photos show what happens around the canal when it rains. However, this situation is not hopeless! Incorporating storm water best management practices (pocket wetlands, street trees, porous pavement, swales, rain barrels) around the canal will tremendously reduce the amount of runoff and raw sewage that enters the canal every time it rains. Our city agencies (including the Department of Environmental Protection) are studying the area and making plans to reduce the amount of combined sewer outfall events.
The photo below shows water flowing directly into the canal from the end of a Gowanus Street. Of course, if the situation is bad enough water can also flow from the canal into the streets, creating an entirely different set of issues. It's all especially fascinating given the push to build luxury condos in the neighborhood.

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