Dredging in the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, brought up muck laced with environmental toxins as a school bus crosses the Third Street Bridge during the city-led 1999 cleanup effort that involved repairs to the flushing tunnel and a partial dredging at the head of the waterway. The results were immediate with an increase in fish and wildlife. But it wasn't enough.
Sewage flowed into the canal as early as 1858, and by the 1880’s the waterway had gained the moniker “Lavendar Lake” for its odorous qualities. In 2010, the Gowanus Canal was designated a Federal Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
I have photographed the Gowanus Canal for over thirty years. In that time, I have seen the real estate around the polluted waterway soar in value. The 1.7 mile long canal is currently in an EPA Superfund cleanup plan that is estimated to be over $1.5 billion, and the entire project won’t be completed until mid-2023. Unfortunately, the developers now rule and high rises will cut off access to what could have been an amazing waterfront for the community.
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