Gowanus Canal (New York City): America’s most toxic waterway gets some help
Sponge Park, 70 Rain Gardens Installed in Watershed
The city, landscape architects, elected officials and environmental groups recently installed green infrastructure along the 100-foot-wide, 1.8-mile noxious Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York.
“We are inching closer and closer to the day we see a clean Gowanus Canal,” said New York State Assembly member Jo Anne Simon. “The Sponge Park’s function of capturing and retaining stormwater before it reaches the canal will be a big help in getting us even closer. This is a great addition to the neighborhood and I congratulate the partners who conceived of this and made it happen.”
The Gowanus Canal was built in the mid-1800s and was used as a major industrial transportation route. Manufactured gas plants (MGP), paper mills, tanneries and chemical plants operated along the Canal and discharged wastes into it.
In addition, contamination flows into the Canal from overflows from sewer systems that carry sanitary waste from homes and rainwater from storm drains and industrial pollutants.
As a result, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the United State’s most seriously contaminated water bodies. More than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and heavy metals, including mercury, lead and copper, are found at high levels in the sediment in the Canal.
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