The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its cleanup plan for Gowanus Canal. The Brooklyn Canal, bound by Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, was declared a Superfund site in 2010 and communities have long been pushing for its cleanup.
Judith A. Enck, the EPA Regional Administrator, said:
“The cleanup plan announced today by the EPA will reverse the legacy of water pollution in the Gowanus. The plan is a comprehensive, scientifically-sound roadmap to turn this urban waterway into a community asset once more.”
One-hundred and fifty years of industrial activity has left the waterway filled with PCBs, PAHs, coal tar waste, heavy metals and volatile organics, and poisoned both the water and fish. The cleanup will take 8 to 10 years and, even then, swimming and fishing would be ill-advised. However, the effort initiates a process of ecological revitalization and sets a precedent that holds companies accountable for their actions.
If this federal decision pulls through, its long term benefits, in terms of residential health and re-investment in the NY Harbor area, are immense.
The City of Seattle is implementing an innovative program to protect their reservoir water supply and create 76 acres of new open space. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has already replaced five open reservoirs with underground structures – a system that both improves water quality and provides better security for the water supply – and an additional project is in the works. Seattle Parks & Recreation (Parks) is working to eventually transform the new open space into “full-fledged parks.”
As part of the program, SPU covers the new underground reservoir structures with a layer of drain rock, soil, grass and other low maintenance plants so the community can use the additional open space immediately. Parks will then work with the community to create master plans for the parks, which will move forward when funding becomes available. The total costs for converting the Beacon, Myrtle, Maple Leaf and West Seattle Reservoirs is estimated by SPU at $150 million. A portion of the funding comes from the 2000 ProParks Levy.
(via Seattle Public Utilities)
An interesting experiment in water pollution management is taking place in the Bronx River estuary near Hunts Point in New York City. Scientists are testing the use of a ‘Mussel Raft’ for addressing nitrogen pollution from treated sewage that ends up in the water from a nearby treatment facility.
Mussels are known for their filtration properties and are being tied to lines on the raft to assist in water filtration. Non-edible ribbed mussels were chosen in the hope they would not be harvested to be eaten. The mussels filter about 1.6 liters of water (0.4 gallons) every hour. Find the full story in The New York Times.