Friday, July 17, 2009

Gowanus Canal Mess

If you read my last post, or several others, you will have seen me kvetch about how New York, to a large extent, totally misuses their abundant waterways. A prime example is the mile-long Gowanus Canal, a truly disgusting, polluted, raw sewage and chemical filled, smelly canal that runs through a section of Brooklyn. In most other cities this would have long ago been cleaned up and lined with walkways, restaurants, shops, you name it. Not here though. It is as it has always been, a cesspool.

Now, in what is the most convoluted logic yet, New York is fighting to prevent it from being declared a Superfund cite and receiving Federal money to help clean it up. Their official reason is that the city can do a better job of cleaning it up themselves. Oh, and they are going to rely on voluntary payments from polluters to fund the effort. Good luck with that. Most of the original polluters are long gone and out of business and I doubt if those that are still around will volunteer anything.

Amazing that in the almost thirty years that I have lived here the city had done nothing to clean up the Gowanus Canal but now, all of a sudden, they can do a better job than the Federal government.

Here is but one example of the city's ineptitude. There is a large flushing pump at the end of the canal that just kind of dead ends. This was designed to keep the water circulating to avoid it just becoming stagnant. This pump broke over 40 years ago but was repaired and reactivated in 1988. Due to who knows what it wasn't repaired and activated until 1999. Since it's activation the water quality has improved somewhat, but the canal hasn't been dredged since 1975. Oh, and the pump needs to be repaired again, and that is scheduled to take two years during which it will not be fully operable. Not even sure if the repair work has started though.

By the way, the real reason for the city refusing the Superfund offer is the concern that potential developers will not want to build in the area if it is classified a Superfund site. Oh, but they will flock to the area if it remains a polluted mess?

Next week I am going to takes some strolls along the canal and post pictures so you can see how this neat little waterway is now being utilized. Of course you won't be able to see much of the pollution. In fact, the violet sheen to the water actually photographs pretty well.

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