FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE10-72
July 19, 2010
Farrell Sklerov / Mercedes Padilla (718) 595-6600
DEP Reaches Key Milestone in Gowanus Canal Water Quality Improvement Project
Activation of New Aeration System Allows Upgrade of Flushing Tunnel To Begin
Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway, local
elected officials and community stakeholders today announced the activation of a
new oxygenation system, a key milestone in the City's project to improve water
quality in the Gowanus Canal. The temporary system will add dissolved oxygen to
the canal to help mitigate odors during the upgrade of the century-old Gowanus
Canal Flushing Tunnel over the next 26 months. The new oxygenation system is
part of a project originally announced by Mayor Bloomberg in October 2009. The project will upgrade the canal's wastewater pumping station to reduce combined sewer overflows in the canal by increasing pumping capacity to the Red Hook Wastewater Treatment Plant, and will upgrade the existing flushing tunnel to significantly increase the flow of oxygen-rich water from Buttermilk Channel in the harbor to the canal. Future work includes dredging sediment at the upper end of the canal to eliminate odors that can arise at low tide, which must be coordinated with the Superfund cleanup process currently being undertaken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"Just seven months ago Mayor Bloomberg broke ground on
this $140 million project that will dramatically improve water quality in
Gowanus Canal," said Commissioner Holloway, "and the activation of this aeration
system marks a major milestone that will enable us to begin the rehabilitation
of the Flushing Tunnel. Once complete, this upgrade will open up new
recreational opportunities and significantly improve the quality of life of
is extremely gratifying to see significant progress being made in the
rehabilitation of the Gowanus Canal after so many years of neglect. I
congratulate the DEP on reaching this milestone and look forward to even more
good news as the DEP works with the EPA to restore this critical Brooklyn
waterway," said New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery of the
"The Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation is thrilled to mark this
significant milestone in the upgrade of the canal's flushing tunnel.
Though the road to a clean and rejuvenated canal is long, we have never been so
close. I want to thank the City for following through on its commitment, and we
look forward to working together to transform this area," said Gowanus Canal
Community Development Corporation Executive Director Bill Appel.
The new oxygenation system will duplicate the effects of the flushing tunnel
while it is out of service in order to reduce odor conditions in the canal. The
system withdraws water from the canal, supersaturates it with oxygen, and
discharges it back to the canal through 2,500 feet of piping. This system will
allow the tunnel to be dewatered so that construction of the new wastewater
force main and upgraded flushing tunnel pumping system can begin. DEP will
continually monitor the performance of the oxygenation system during the
shutdown of the flushing tunnel.
The overall project is scheduled for completion in 2013. It will reduce
combined sewer overflows into the canal, reduce the floatable debris associated
with combined sewer overflows, decrease pathogen concentration, and enhance
dissolved oxygen levels in the canal. Once complete, it is expected that the
waterway will meet recreational standards for boating and fishing, an
improvement from the current fish survival classification. The project has three
Wastewater Pumping Station
- $85 million upgrade at the head of the canal.
- Installation of four new pumps to increase combined
sewer overflow pumping capacity by 50 percent, from 20 million to 30 million
gallons a day.
- Construction of a mile-long sewage pipe to the Red
Hook Wastewater Treatment Plant to reduce combined sewer overflows into the
- The upgrades are expected to reduce combined sewer overflows into the
canal by approximately 34 percent.
- $50 million upgrade of the flushing tunnel, which
pulls water from Buttermilk Channel into the head of the canal.
- Water from the Buttermilk Channel in the East River,
is oxygen-rich and pumping it into the canal improves overall water quality
and mitigates the effects of combined sewer overflows.
- The existing single pump will be replaced with three
pumps, increasing the daily flow of oxygen rich-water into the canal by 40
percent, from 154 million gallons a day to 215 million gallons a day.
- The tunnel was opened nearly 100 years ago, fell into disrepair, and
became inoperable in the 1960s. The tunnel was reactivated 10 years
- 750 feet of the canal bed's upper reaches will be
- The dredging will remove sediment mounds that are
exposed during low tides, and eliminate a potential source of odors.
- Will be coordinated with the EPA's remedy chosen in the Superfund
DEP manages the City's water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of
water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8 million in New York
City, and residents of Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties. New York
City's water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from
the City, and comprises 19 reservoirs, and three controlled