Public Lab Research note

Barnraising: Liz Barry talks Gowanus Canal

by mathew | November 16, 2012 03:19 16 Nov 03:19 | #4925 | #4925

These would ideally go with Liz's slides hint

GLAM (Gowanus Low-Altitude Mapping

Gowanus Conservancy (Feral Landscape Architecture) Proteus Gowanus (Poets, Visual Artists) Gowanus Dredgers (boaters)

Quick Gowanus History

New York is a dense, high-capacity community intensely interested in its public spaces.

Gowanus Canal started as a "toilet and trashcan" for a squatter town, and later industry. Infrastructure was installed ad-hoc and without records. It became known as "lavender lake", and 100 years ago they dug a tunnel from the East River (Long Island Sound) to flush the back of the canal.

Now its a superfund site, along with Newtown Creek. Both are new superfunds.

recent work

Eymund wants to increase permiable surfaces near the Gowanus, and he loves Archaeology. Eymund realized that a historic revolutionary graveyard "Marylander Park" is near the Gowanus Canal, and would be a great monument and green space. They are trying to prove the existence of this graveyardl.

Eymund claims subsidence is indicating the presence of graves, will do seismography in collaboration...[]

how GLAM participates in the community advisory group for the superfund site.

Since it started as a squatter site, everyone did their own drainage. CH2MHill was hired to map the drainage site, and identified all the unknown entries to the canal (in blue).

Hans went out in boat in winter, photographed an ice melt indicating an inflow.

Aerial image gives us clues, but it doesn't tell us everything...

at another site we found something that looked like a plume with the IR camera

Eymund does not all it a plume, because we can't necessarily infer its direction.

so we went out in canoes and found a welded patch onto the bulkhead, and found a freshwater outflow-- it was groundwater!

We saw particulate matter eminating from another site, a site bought by Whole Foods. the state Department of Environmental Conservation was contacted, and they were appreciative.

Recently, a boom has been placed over the site of this particulate matter. and farther down another boom has also been placed.

In 2011 we dedicated ourselves to getting seasonal imagery, capturing which warehouses were burning heating oil #6 and sending particulate matter into the community, as well as the salt pile the Dept. of Sanitation keeps within 20' of the canal.

We're not sure, but it may be that the bus lot was fined $500,000 for oil dumping into canal because of Gowanus Conservancy. We wouldn't claim it, but having a physical presence on the side of the canal is a part of neighborhood policing-- GC wasn't the whistle blower, but folks come out because of GC.

ALso, as GC plants out plants along the gowanus canal, the landscape architects were requesting high-res photography to see which plants could survive in heavily polluted soils along the canal. also track their garden, nursery, bioswales, and raingardens along the canal.

can identify systematic non-point sources like oil spots, oil drums, bad waste handling.

the freshwater sources (welded plate on wall) identified has influenced master plans for landscape architecture.

there was an oil spill at Bayside during Sandy, and the EPA reached out to GLAM... developing story.

GLAM sits on technical stormwater committee and archaeology committee, and their work has changed what the EPA thought they were going to do. The EPA only has to clean up the upland parts and dredge polluted sediment. But GLAM has pushed that unless impermiable pavement removed and stormwater dealt with, there will never be dealt with and the EPA will never be able to clean it up.

Reactions from the Gulf

Scott: we've been fighting for ONE community advisory group for the whole Gulf Coast and don't have one. Its also interesting that you have a City DEP... we don't have anything like that in New Orleans.


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