Archives for posts with tag: green infrastructure

For one day, we brought the Gowanus Canal to the middle of Park Slope.  On Saturday, May 21, GCC held the second annual EXPO Gowanus, a free, outdoor event where 350 community members learned in depth about problems facing the Gowanus Canal and how everyone can help to improve water quality and access to waterfront public space.


We were happy to see and talk to hundreds of Park Slope residents at EXPO Gowanus. The upland neighborhoods of Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Prospect Heights all make up the Gowanus Watershed. Each year about 377 million gallons of polluted water end up in the Canal from street runoff and raw sewage from 120,000 Watershed residents when the combined sewer system overflows during rain storms. Pollutants from Combined Sewage Overflow (CSOs) hurt water quality and biodiversity and continue to be a nuisance to the neighborhood.


At EXPO Gowanus, visitors learned in depth about why CSOs are a problem and the many ways we can all help reduce the volume of polluted water that enters the Canal every year.

Visitors of all ages flowed through 20 interactive stations and activities exploring the Gowanus Canal, Edge and Watershed.  Each station highlighted exciting projects that are underway by volunteers, designers, schools, organizations and public agencies.


The newest generation of Gowanus student scientists reported on their investigations into Canal water and soil quality and proposed their ideas for a cleaner Canal and waterfront, which included impressive physical models of proposed green infrastructure and public space.


Our bioswale volunteers-in-training explained how public dollars are being invested in NYC Green Infrastructure, including thousands of bioswales across the city that will mitigate sewage overflow in the Gowanus Canal and other polluted waterbodies.


Visitors collaged waterfront designs for Gowanus Greenscape, an emerging master plan for parks and public spaces that will center on the Canal.


Additionally GCC led volunteers from National Grid and neighbors who deployed across the adjacent Washington Park and weeded, mulched and re-planted several areas in need of stewardship.

Don’t miss next year’s EXPO!

2016 Exhibitors: ArtBuilt; ArtLab Gowanus; Balmori Associates; Climate Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP); Decades Out; dlandstudio; Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG); Gowanus Creek Scene Investigation (CSI); GrowNYC; the Open Sewer Atlas; NYC Parks; NYC City Councilmember Brad Lander Participatory Budgeting Committee; NYC Department of Sanitation; Parsons Architecture Department; POOP Project; thread collective; and local schools: PS 32; MS 51; MS 88; MS 839 and Brooklyn Urban Garden School (BUGS);. See the full EXPO program here.

EXPO Gowanus 2016 was developed in partnership with Old Stone House and MS 51 and sponsored by AECOM, National Grid and Con Edison.

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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!


(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


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


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)


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.

Restoring the environment in a post-industrial landscape involves finding ways to attract animals and insects to the neighborhood. In other words, real estate for the birds and the bees. While ground for new residential complexes on the Canal, we’ve been busy with smaller residential complexes of our own: Introducing the Wildflower Corridor!

A row of planters.

A row of Wildflower planters.

The Wildflower Corridor project aims to install wildflowers down 9th Street from 2nd Avenue to Prospect Park. May 17 will see the installation of 24 planters between 2nd and 5th Avenue. The plants were adopted by residents and businesses who are volunteering their services to keep the plants alive and healthy.

The Salt Lot has been really busy lately.

The Salt Lot has been really busy lately.

During April’s Clean & Greens on the 12th, 13th and 27th, volunteers put together the 24 wildflower planters with the help of Future Green Studio. Plants and materials were donated by The Home Depot, North Creek Nurseries, Greenbelt Native Plant Center, Quadrozzi Enterprises, Build it Green!NYC, and Scout + Gather.

Assembly line!

Assembly line!

Volunteers install cladding on a planter.

Volunteers install cladding on a planter.

The wildflowers will hang out and grow in our nursery until May 17.

The wildflowers will hang out at the Salt Lot nursery until May 17.

The planters are looking great, and we can’t wait to finally install them in a few weeks. We’ll even be celebrating after the event with a block party on 8th Street! We hope to see everyone there. Save the date – May 17!

If you’re interested in signing up for a Clean & Green event, our schedule for 2014 is posted up on our website.
As always, check our events page for more goings on at the Conservancy!

[Photos by Jason Diaz]

Thanks again to the Wildflower Corridor’s fantastic sponsors for helping us make this project a reality:



On Monday, Shari Greenblatt of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Ate Atema of Atema Architecture graciously invited the Conservancy to participate in a boat tour of the Gowanus Canal. Luckily, it was a perfectly handsome day to do so!

About 30-40 people began the adventure at the Battery in Manhattan:

Armed with a microphone and a scenic backdrop, Hans Hesselein of the Conservancy spoke about the history and challenges of the canal, in addition to the myriad of projects the Conservancy has implemented to counteract those issues–especially in regards to green infrastructure.

Eric Rothstein of eDesign Dynamics and Ate then spoke about the watershed, Street Creeks and bioswales.

The tour curved around Red Hook, and finally entered the canal and past the 9th St. drawbridges.

More was discussed on the future of the canal in regards to Hurricane Sandy flooding, as the canal breached its banks during the hurricane (more here). With this in mind, climate change is on the forefront of issues the Conservancy has concern for.

The boat tour gave us a new vantage point, as we were able to see many features of the canal that we could not see from a canoe or on shore. Here is one of the metal recycling centers as seen from the boat:

Coincidentally, National Grid was also in the canal, taking sediment samples to assess location of plumes containing contaminated materials.

Unfortunately, a problem with the 3rd St. drawbridge prevented us from going further; regardless, it was a great opportunity to inform many who were not aware of the history of the canal, and about the Conservancy itself. Maybe there will be more boat tours in the future? Stay tuned!