Coney Island Creek

Coney Island Creek, located in southwest Brooklyn, is tributary to Gravesend Bay and flows in a southwesterly direction. The first inhabitants of the study area were the Algonquin Indians. Shellfish and finfish were abundant in the waters of the region and were an important part of the Algonquin diet. The region was covered with broad-leaf hardwood forests, salt marshes, and freshwater streams. In the colonial era, Coney Island was part of the township of Gravesend, the only English town along with five Dutch settlements that would later become Brooklyn. Coney Island was predominantly farmland during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. During the nineteenth century, the railroad reached the public beaches at Coney Island and it became a fashionable resort community with horse racing as the main attraction. Ornate wood-frame hotels were built to accommodate visitors from Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn. When amusement rides and spectacles were introduced in the 1890s, Coney Island began to assume the character for which it would become famous. The extension of the subway to Coney Island in the 1920s made the area accessible to all New Yorkers.

Once a bountiful source of fish and oysters, Coney Island Creek is no longer a natural feature. The Coney Island Creek watershed drainage area is now highly urbanized. The majority of Coney Island Creek has been channelized with bulkheading and rip rap. The lower portion of Coney Island Creek is lined with numerous obstructions including wrecks, old barges, pilings, and construction debris. The upper portion of the Creek becomes choked with abandoned cars and boats, pilings, and other urban refuse. Increases in population and urbanization over the last century has resulted in an increase in annual runoff to the waterbody and has all but eliminated any natural response mechanisms (tidal marshes and buffer zones) that might have helped absorb this hydraulic load. Combined and separated sewers have replaced natural freshwater streams such that the only source of freshwater to Coney Island Creek is CSO and stormwater discharges. As a result, Coney Island Creek receives approximately 290 million gallons a year of combined sewage through the permitted CSO outfall to the Creek. In addition, the Creek receives another 1,487 million gallons per year of urban stormwater. As a consequence of these discharges, nuisance conditions resulting from solids and floatables have impaired its recreational use while depressed dissolved oxygen levels have impacted aquatic health. Elevated bacteria concentrations are common. Restoring Coney Island Creek to its pristine condition is no longer possible due to hydraulic modifications that removed the natural wetlands habitat and man-made conditions that simply cannot be reversed.

Long Term Control Plan

DEP developed a Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) to better understand CSO impacts on water quality within Coney Island Creek. Throughout the LTCP’s development the City collected water quality data, performed extensive modeling, held multiple public meeting and analyzed potential projects based on costs and anticipated water quality. To learn more about the Coney Island Creek LTCP and other improvement projects, download the factsheet.

The Coney Island Creek Long Term Control Plan was submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in June 2016. DEC approved the LTCP on April 4, 2018.

Public Meetings

Coney Island Creek Kickoff Meeting

November 4, 2015 – Edna Cohen School 2840 West 12th Street, Brooklyn

Coney Island Creek Public Meeting 2

April 20, 2016 – New York Aquarium, Education Hall, Brooklyn

Waterbody/Watershed Facility Plan

Additional Materials

Get Involved

For more information, please email and visit our LTCP Program webpage.