Storm urge! City wants sea walls for Gowanus, Newtown

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The city wants to build sea walls at the mouths of the Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal to keep them from overflowing their banks during the next Hurricane Sandy.

Government bean counters are taking bids from designers for the elaborate flood protection structures, as Capital New York first reported. The Sandy recovery team assembled under former Mayor Bloomberg say the storm opened their eyes to the potential for the inlets to inundate the borough far inland from the New York Harbor.

“Hurricane Sandy did not just expose our vulnerabilities along the ocean, it also had a devastating impact along inland waterways in all five boroughs,” said Daniel Zarrilli, director of the newly created Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “Storm surge barriers along inland waterways would play a vital role in the city’s resiliency efforts.”

Greenpoint came out of the 2012 superstorm fairly dry, but Gowanus got soaked by canal floodwaters.

One Greenpoint resident said the city is overreaching, at least in his neighborhood.

“It is a waste of money,” Michael Hoffman said. “It did not get all that flooded around here during Sandy. Maybe they need it in other areas, but not here.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
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Reader Feedback

Or from Yellow Hook says:
So where will the water go instead?

You can't stop water, you can change its direction.
June 5, 2014, 10:38 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
It will go to Jersey.
June 5, 2014, 10:49 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Why don't they just drill a drain in the bottoms of the creek and canal? Send the water to China!
June 5, 2014, 11:24 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
While I appreciate the suggestions, located above, the truth is that this water is here to stay-UNLESS we start sending it up into the outer of space, of course.
Thanks for reading.
June 5, 2014, 12:16 pm
Pete from Park Slope says:
Greenpoint actually is pretty low on the ground.
So the fact that it escaped Sandy is more due to the
fact that that Storm's winds went up the East River blowing in a counter-clockwise direction;Ii doesn't mean that Greenpoint will escape the next one.
June 5, 2014, 7:15 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Or, it is true you can only change water's direction, but that does not mean that's not worth doing. Else, you'd have to mock the Dutch for trying to change water's direction with their dykes. Or the British for installing the floodgates on the Thames. Or the Venetians for building floodgates to protect their lagoon. Unfortunately as sea levels rise and more mega storms occur "changing water's direction" will become a very common endeavour in our world.
June 6, 2014, 11:33 am
stan chaz from GreenPernt says:
RE the proposed Newtown Creek storm/tidal barrier:

With the huge residential building projects being built along both Long Island City/Queens (to the north of Newtown creek) and the Greenpoint /Brooklyn waterfront (to the south of Newtown Creek), there is growing interest for building some sort of low level link or low-vevel bridge between those two growing communities at the mouth of Newtown Creek.

Can this proposed tidal barrier be incorporated into some sort of link or bridge?
Can it serve a dual purpose?

This, at least for pedestrians and bicycles...since there is already an automobile link via the Pulaski bridge a few blocks away.

But the Pulaski bridge is not pedestrian friendly in terms of easy and quick access between the two waterfront communities of Long Island City and Greenpoint/Williamsburg.

Perhaps this storm effort can combine the two needs.
June 6, 2014, 12:19 pm
go around from Brooklyn says:
It will go around and find it's way.

That is unless you raise the grade of ALL the waterfront properties.

Perhaps that's the real answer. Those that wish to raise, raise, and those who don't, don't.

And so it goes!
June 6, 2014, 9:14 pm
larry from Gowanus says:
I don't understand how a flood gate would keep land dry in Gowanus. During most hurricane, it rains, and it rains a lot. So while that new flood gate is up to hold back incoming ocean surge waters, the rain waters will be filling the canal with no where to go. So we are flooded anyway but now we have all that public money tied up in some new infrastructure contraption rather than being used in a more realistic way--that is using it to design low lands and flood districts to deal directly with higher water levels, more rain, ash occasional surges. Wet land edges are the only rational solution for places like Gowanus.
June 6, 2014, 11:31 pm
ty from pps says:
There are some really dumb people commenting here... "it just changes direction" Uhh... yeah. "it's raining during storms" Uhh... yeah.
June 7, 2014, 7:04 pm
Vinny Polack from Greenpoint says:
This is a terrible waste of money. Waste Management is the only company that still uses Newtown Creek for barges. The creek has no natural currents and is not environmentally salvageable from all the oil and dumped material over time. It would be cheaper to dam the entire Newtown Creek off and fill it with landfill than to build expensive storm barriers to protect trash processing stations and Chinese scrap yards.
June 8, 2014, 11:58 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Vinny, it depends what the vision for the creek is. Remediation is something we know how to do after decades of Superfund work. And if that remediation leads to a clean waterway that is rezoned for commercial & residential, the boost to the area's tax base could more than offset the cost of the cleanup. If, on the other hand, the intent is to keep the area industrial then you are right that it would be a waste of money. Why clean up a canal when the same sources of pollution will go on polluting it?
June 10, 2014, 11:13 am
b from gp says:
Vinny, If it weren't for the City's advanced ability to deal with waste, you would be faced with the alternative of eating it.

Stan Chaz, The idea of combined functions of bridge and flood barrier is a really interesting one!

Me from Bay Ridge, China has it's own flood problem partially caused by an expensive OVERSIZED dam.

Larry, Am totally into the idea of land engineered to absorb and filter rainfall and I'm not referring to miniature "bioswales".

An interesting thing about Sandy was she reached in over land that had been man-made along the inner harbor. Her farthest reach in Northern Brooklyn was actually back to the original natural shoreline.
June 10, 2014, 1:37 pm
Darren from Greenpoint says:
Greenpoint is flanked by the East river too. The water came up past West St. during Sandy. The flood gate may help parts of Commercial St and and Ash St. It's not going to help the rest of GP. Of course the EDC put a soccer field in their rendering 98% of Greenpoint dose not want a soccer field at Box st park, they want a passive park!
June 10, 2014, 2:02 pm

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