Archives for category: Green Infrastructure

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As Winter arrives it is the perfect time for us to reflect on our Fall School Clean & Green season! We always have such a blast with our School Clean & Green programs. Schools from all around NYC come to learn about the Gowanus Canal and participate in environmental stewardship activities!

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Our Educator, Diana Gruberg, leading a discussion on combined sewage overflow with Packer Collegiate School.

For those of you that don’t know reducing Combined Sewage Overflow (CSOs) in the Gowanus is at the heart of the GCC mission. In New York City we have what is called a combined sewer system – meaning that all of the pipes combine rainwater and sanitary sewage. Your drain pipes at home, at the office, and on the street all flow into one set of pipes and when too much rain causes back up raw sewage and stormwater will overflow directly into the Gowanus Canal and other points across the city.This overflow is usually triggered by a rainfall of just one inch or less! So, as you can imagine, our sewers overflow a lot. In the Gowanus Canal 377 million gallons of raw sewage is discharged annually due to CSO and 27 billion gallons of sewage flows into the rest of NYC’s water bodies every year.

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CSO is a very important issue that we think every New Yorker should know about — and — what better way to educate the public than to start with youth! Before students grab their shovels and wheelbarrows, they learn how CSOs pollute water and how taking care of permeable space, like gardens, bioswales and street trees, can soak up stormwater and lessen the burden on the aging sewer system. They learn about the other benefits green space provides, such as canopy, cooling, and habitat for pollinators. Making as much green space as possible is especially important around polluted waterways like the Gowanus Canal. We think that all NYC students can be environmental stewards when they have the knowledge about why it’s important and opportunity to get their hands dirty.

This Fall in our School Clean & Greens around 300 students performed 732 service hours in just a 3-month period! We are very excited this many students contributed to making Gowanus cleaner and greener and look to have even more students come out in the Spring.

“Having the kids outside and in Gowanus was fantastic. I love that they truly got their hands dirty with planting projects, but were also challenged to explore the neighborhood and discover pollution and rehabilitation efforts on their own. It was a great mix.” – Rodeph Sholom School.

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Students performing Bioswale Maintenance

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A highlight of the season, this high school student put blood, sweat & tears into removing cobble stones that were compacting street tree soil!

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Students get an up close look at the Gowanus Canal and one of its CSO outfall points indicated by green wet weather discharge signs.

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Hunter College High School put in a lot of work on the 2nd Ave Street End Rain Garden.

During the cold winter months the GCC will pause our programing, regroup for next season and resume scheduling in March 2017! We are already fast at work planning stewardship activities and education plans for next season.

Last, but not least, EXPO Gowanus will take place on May 20, 2017 at Thomas Greene Park in Gowanus. This is an opportunity for students to exhibit their Gowanus-related projects at our annual community event and be public ambassadors for the Gowanus Canal. Watch this video showing students at last year’s event. Registration for EXPO Gowanus will be open soon!

**For more information on our education program, School Clean & Green programs or EXPO Gowanus visit our website or contact our Education Coordinator, Shelby, at Shelby@GowanusCanalConservancy.org**

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On October 28th, the eve of the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd, and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy celebrated the 6th Street Green Corridor. Watch the video here!

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(l-r) GCC Board Chair Andy Simons, GCC Board Member Stephen Kline, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez and DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd marked the occasion with a few words.

The 6th Street Green Corridor is a pilot green infrastructure project in the heart of the Gowanus, marking the first of a network of hundreds of bioswales that the DEP will be constructing in our community. We managed the design and construction of this project, working with EDesign Dynamics LLC, Drexel University and Perfetto Contracting Co.  Funding was generously provided by DEP and the EPA, the latter which was secured by Congresswoman Velázquez.  This green infrastructure network will collect stormwater off of adjacent streets, lessening the impact of combined sewer overflows on the health of the Canal.  The curbside gardens will also enliven our streetscapes with trees, native grasses, flowering perennials and pollinators!

As a pioneer project, the 6th Street Green Corridor features several alternative configurations to test for success.  The project will be monitored for several years with state-of-art equipment to measure and record water volumes captured, pollutants removed and ambient temperature effects.  Drexel University and the GCC will be working together to collect and analyze results, which will provide a set of real-world lessons for the coming wave of green infrastructure design and construction.  The GCC is also developing a maintenance training course for citizen bioswale stewards, who will practice techniques on 6th Street. The lessons learned from this pilot project, as well as the community of stewards developed, will contribute to the success of the thousands of bioswales that the DEP will be constructing across New York City.

We ended the joyous occasion with a tour of all 11 bioswales, led by former GCC Executive Director Hans Hesselein.

To get involved with bioswale stewardship, please contact info@gowanuscanalconservancy.org.

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A small crowd gathered at the bioswales on 6th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues. (photo credit – Dan Wiley)

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An aerial view of 6th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues shows how bioswales can fit alongside a busy industrial corridor. (photo credit – Gowanus Low Altitude Mapping)

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As we tested the hydrologic function of the bioswales on 2nd Avenue, a Monarch butterfly feasted on the nectar of Echinacea purpurea. Bioswales provide many benefits for our urban environments, including stormwater capture and pollinator habitat.