Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Gowanus Flushing Tunnel and Force Main: Just One Piece of the Puzzle

Things have been a bit busy around the FirstandCourt household over the last month, and there have been quite a few stories I just haven't had time to address.  Most will be lost to the ether, but this New York Times City Room piece on the Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel was too good to let slip by.  It's one of the best examples I've seen of informative journalism on the Canal and has some amazing photos from inside the flushing tunnel that I had never seen.  I've snagged one here as a fair use, but I encourage you to click through for the full article and pictures.

Repairs and improvements to the flushing tunnel are a long-planned and lengthy process that will ultimately improve water quality in the Gowanus Canal by improving the flow of water from the Buttermilk Channel (the flushing tunnel) and reducing sewer overflows by increasing pumping capacity to the inaptly named Red Hook Water Treatment Plant (in the Brooklyn Navy Yard - via the force main).  From the Times piece, here is a graphic that highlights DEP's planned changes to the flushing/pumping equipment at the head of the canal:
The flushing tunnel/force main facility runs deep beneath Degraw Street all the way to Buttermilk Channel; the force main will hook up with a sewer connector just west of Columbia Street.  The construction presence is obvious on Degraw Street at Tompkins Place and between Hicks and Columbia.
The article prompted me to go back and upload DEP's update on the Flushing Tunnel / Force Main project to Community Board 6's Environmental Protection Committee on October 25, 2010.  I've embedded the whole powerpoint deck below for convenient reading.

Gowanus Facilities Upgrade CB6 2010-10-25
Simply put - it's not enough.  The only tolerable outcome will be a complete end to combined sewer overflows not just in the Gowanus, but city wide.  These measures will help in the interim, but for the long haul our aging cities deserve Federal infrastructure spending to address what really is a regional and national issue.

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