Sections

Flushing tunnel back online and Department of Environmental Protection will not estimate when it will break next

Gowanus Canal gets its motor running, but for how long?

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

There might be a light at the end of this tunnel.

The city reactivated the Gowanus Canal’s on-again,-off-again flushing tunnel on Wednesday, but the jury is still out on whether the drainage system will finally live up to its century-old promise and freshen the fetid canal.

“This needs to be effective,” said Gowanus Alliance president Paul Basile. “This is the first key element of the clean canal. It will never been sustainable without this.”

The 1.2-mile-long tube was installed 102 years ago to pump polluted water from the canal into Buttermilk Channel, the East River passageway that separates Governors Island from Brooklyn. The tunnel broke in the 1960s and the canal sat stagnant until the city started it up again in 1999, reversing the flow so that water from the Buttermilk Channel flushed into the still-stinky canal, only to have it turned off once more as part of the feds’ $506-million canal clean-up. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection would not give an estimate of how long it will be before the next breakdown.

The tunnel has three turbine pumps that will funnel in the oxygen-rich water, but the machinery is not yet moving the promised 100-million gallons per day it should, the department said. Two pumps are being kept deactivated to avoid stirring up the toxic gunk at the bottom of the canal and to keep from breaking the tunnel itself after three years with no motion from the ocean.

Officials believe restarting the drainage system could eventually make Brooklyn’s nautical purgatory livable for fish, crabs, and all kinds of aquatic life. Officials doubt it will ever be safe to eat aquatic critters out of the canal, even after the federal government is finished scraping its bottom and sealing the remaining mercury and heavy metals under concrete as part of its Superfund scrub-down.

But one local leader sure hopes the water-mover works this time around.

“We are wildly optimistic about this because having reliable infrastructure in place is essential for the future environmental and economic viability of the Gowanus Canal,” Community Board 6 district manager Craig Hammerman said.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

Thomas Lawrence from Brooklyn Heights says:
diehipster:

"Artists" as interlopers. That's rich. Where are you coming from? You seem to think "artists" are some kind of blight on the neighborhood. That' a weird kind of prejudice. Happy Holidays.
Dec. 23, 2013, 1:40 pm
diehipster from Electricuting Ethans says:
Thomas

Everyone is an "artist" nowadays in the new whimsical land of Brooklyn. Now do you get it?
Dec. 23, 2013, 3:56 pm
dipsternot from south brooklyn says:
This is the most perverted piece of infrastructure that belongs to 19th century thinking--when toilets were invented.
The city has been spending money to just push out the sewage from the canal rather than developing a system that could contain that sewage in the bowels of the city's sewer pipe system.
So now the folks in Sunset Park and Red Hook will get to enjoy the mess shown in the photo. Just who in their right mind would consider that progress?
Dec. 28, 2013, 1:32 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.