DEP Presents Tunnel Alternative To Gowanus CAG, Tuesday, Jan. 22

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GOWANUS – The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is going ahead with plans to present its proposed tunnel project to the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) on Tuesday, January 22nd.

Dredging equipment at Gowanus Canal 4th Street Turning Basin (Photo: Nathan Haselby)

The monthly CAG meetings are typically facilitated by the Environmental Protection Agency‘s Doug Sarno, however with the current Federal Government shutdown now in its 28th day, furloughed EPA employees have been ordered to stop work on the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup. Tuesday’s meeting will be “self-facilitated” by CAG members if the shutdown continues into next week.

“No one [from EPA] will be at the January meeting unless the government opens up. I can’t go to the meeting,” Sarno told Brooklyn Paper.

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Emails to the EPA are met with automated responses stating that “messages will not be checked” during the shutdown.

According to a DEP spokesperson, the city agency’s work on the Gowanus Canal cleanup continues on schedule. DEP will present to the Gowanus CAG a proposed tunnel as an alternative to the two CSO (combine sewage overflow) tanks that are currently part of the cleanup plan. Like the tanks, the tunnel would collect any combined sewer overflow during a rainstorm, and hold the excess until it can be pumped to a wastewater treatment plant.

The agency says that the construction of a tunnel would cost “roughly the same” as the tanks, which is currently estimated at $1.2 billion.

DEP will present its tunnel proposal to the CAG on Tuesday whether or not the federal government is still shut down, but if EPA staff cannot attend the meeting, they will not be able to share their input with CAG members.

A representative for National Grid said that its team, along with the other Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs), are also continuing their work analyzing data culled from the 4th Street Turning Basin dredging and capping pilot study that wrapped up at the end of last year.

The study will be used to develop a cleanup plan for the remainder of the canal which is scheduled to begin in 2020. It is currently unclear how the shutdown will impact the EPA’s schedule for cleaning up the canal.

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, January 22, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street (between Hoyt & Bond Streets), Gowanus
All Gowanus CAG meetings are open to the public.

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