Gowanus Canal Water Quality Summit, Session 1

The Gowanus Canal Water Quality Summit is intended to inspire dialog among participants concerning a variety of issues related to the canal’s water quality. The summit will consist of a series of four evening workshops, during which there will be 2 or 3 presentations, followed by discussion. Speakers will address issues such as contaminated sediments, sewer infrastructure, land use, green district planning and other related factors. The summit will culminate with a “Green Gowanus charette” — a participatory visioning workshop during which participants will have an opportunity to translate their ideas into a set of working recommendations.

Session 1: Introduction to Gowanus Canal Water Quality
February 21, 2007

Historical and Future Services Provided by the Gowanus Canal to the People of Brooklyn

This session will trace the history of the canal, with a focus on the services it has provided or could provide to those living on and around it. Beginning with the Pre-industrial era, the discussion will cover the ecosystem services provided by the Gowanus marshes to pre-colonial and colonial populations of Brooklyn. This session will then focus on the economic services provided by the industrial waterway in the context of 19th and 20th century manufacturing-based economy, and will conclude with some ideas on what the waterway can be in the Post-industrial era, in the context of economic globalization, a service-oriented economy, and modern Brooklyn.

Water Quality and Use of the Canal

This session will focus on the topic of water quality, beginning with how water quality in the canal likely changed through time as a function of the land use and economic activity in the surrounding watershed. The discussion will begin with a description of water quality in the “pristine era”, including specific probable chemical, bacteriological, biological characteristics, and will then describe how anthropogenic activities can lead to changes in water quality (e.g. discharge of raw sewage and storm water from combined sewage outfalls (CSOs) etc). The session will conclude with a discussion of how water quality is measured, modeled, and how the data is interpreted.

Current Water Quality Conditions in the Gowanus Canal
This session will provide an overview of the current water quality of the Gowanus Canal, with comparisons to other water bodies in New York City and the New York harbor. The session will present the results of the most recent water quality monitoring and modeling in the canal, and will outline potential causes and effects, in order to inform future remediation efforts

All sessions run from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and will be located at Polytechnic University; Dibner Library, Room LC 400; 333 Jay Street, Brooklyn. Please visit www.poly.edu/directions for directions.

Mr. John C. Muir; Gowanus Canal CDC
Mr. Keith Mahoney; New York City Department of Environmental Protection
Mr. Reed Super; Columbia Environmental Law Clinic