A Sunday NY Times roundup of development and community planning process in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn contains this hidden threat:
"Sometime in the next few months, the city plans to shut the flushing tunnel for 18 months of repairs, and that could bring back the smell of the bad old days."
What is the "flushing tunnel?" It's a pipe stretching over one mile from the harbor (Buttermilk Channel between Red Hook and Governor's Island) to the head of the Gowanus Canal. According to a press release from the Department of Environmental Protection, a 600-hp motor with 7-ft-diameter propeller can pump around 200 million gallons of harbor water into the canal each day. The tunnel was renovated and re-activated in 1999 following three decades of dormancy. It has helped to lessen the effects of local pollution, which is one reason why developers like Toll Brothers and Shaya Boymelgreen have initiated new high-end housing projects in the former marshland and industrial basin.
Faced with the prospect of more sewer-geyser eruptions during rainstorms, the Gowanus Lounge groans: "We think it's going to be a very, very, very long 18 months."
Even with the pump operating, however, some neighborhood residents have expressed concern that new construction and habitation will exacerbate drainage and sewer problems. Witness the call to action urging community members to "get serious." Community Board 6 will have a chance to voice such concerns to city planners over the next few months.
Top photo by Gideon Fink Shapiro. Map courtesy Department of Environmental Protection. 1940 archival Gowanus photo (left) from Brooklyn Public Library Collection, courtesy Place in History