Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland today announced that the Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel will be re-activated this week for the first time since it was shut down for a full rehabilitation in 2010. The activation of the first submersible turbine pump will bring up to 100 million gallons of oxygen-rich water to the head of the Canal each day. The rehabilitation work also included draining the 1.2 mile long, 12 foot diameter tunnel and inspecting and repairing its brick-lined interior. After Hurricane Sandy, construction plans were altered to include resiliency measures such as raising the control room floor and its critical electrical equipment, flood-proofing the service building, and installing a dike wall and mechanical flood gate. Early next year it is expected that two additional turbine pumps will be activated, allowing for the injection of as much as 252 million gallons of fresher water into the Canal each day, or roughly 30 percent more than it could before the upgrade. In addition, the tunnel will operate around the clock, including at low-tide, when the Canal water is at its most stagnant. The system of three pumps provides redundancy that will ensure that the tunnel remains operational during future maintenance and repairs and the fresher water provided through the flushing tunnel will increase the dissolved oxygen content of the water in the Canal which will dramatically improve its aesthetics and provide a more suitable habitat for plant and aquatic life.And
Local elected officials were pleased with the development:As part of the overall effort to improve the health and cleanliness of the Gowanus Canal, DEP will install separate storm sewer pipes, or high-level storm sewers, along 3rd Avenue in Park Slope. Once completed, this project will keep millions of gallons of stormwater out of the combined sewer system, help to mitigate chronic flooding during heavy rain storms, and reduce sewer overflows into the Canal.In addition, as part of the $1.5 billion Green Infrastructure Plan, beginning next spring DEP will build hundreds of specially engineered curbside gardens, or bioswales, in sidewalks throughout the neighborhoods surrounding the Canal. Each bioswale can absorb nearly 2,500 gallons of stormwater when it rains which eases pressure on the combined sewer system and helps to reduce overflows into the Canal. Bioswales also have hardy plants and trees to help absorb the stormwater, which also beautify the neighborhood, provide shade during the warmer months, and help clean the air.
The companion piece to the flushing tunnel is the force main that sends sewage in the other direction in a pipe at the bottom of the flushing tunnel. The reactivation (likely February 2014) of the force main will make a big difference in the canal's water quality."Cleaning up the Gowanus Canal has long been a priority for our community and we are happy that the flushing tunnel will be reopened and can start to improve water quality in the canal,” said City Council Member Brad Lander. “I look forward to working with Department of Environmental Protection to take the further steps necessary to make the Gowanus safe for our community."“A clean and healthy Gowanus Canal will help ensure that the communities surrounding the Canal are safer, more sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing,” said City Council Member Stephen Levin. “I want to thank Commissioner Strickland and the Department of Environmental Protection for these improvements and their work to re-active the Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel.”“The reactivation of the Gowanus Canal flushing tunnel is yet another example that the clean-up of the canal is well underway,” said NYS Assembly Member Joan L. Millman. “I thank DEP for both repairing the flushing tunnel as well as increasing its capacity. Along with the EPA clean-up of the superfund site, we are another step closer to achieving a clean waterway.”