DEP and DDC Complete $54 Million Project to Improve Stormwater Management in Gowanus

New catch basins help capture storm water to help prevent flooding. Image Credit: DDC/DEP.

On July 12, 2023, NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala, Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Thomas J. Foley, and Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi announced the completion of a $54 million project to install new storm sewers along 3rd Avenue in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The mile-long storm sewers along Third Avenue are located between Carroll and State Streets and from 3rd to 4th Avenues for each of the east/west streets between Carroll and State Streets. The project will reduce roadway flooding and pollution discharged into the Gowanus Canal during rainstorms.

The project’s five-year-long construction involved installing nine new storm chambers and 74 new catch basins to alleviate flooding and switching existing catch basin drainage connections from the combined sewer to the new storm sewer to direct wastewater to a wastewater treatment plant. Additionally, more than two miles of older cast iron pipes were replaced with concrete-lined ductile water mains, which are more resilient and less prone to breakage. The roadways were also resurfaced, and new sidewalks, pedestrian ramps, and curbs were installed as well.

Previously, all drainage around 3rd Avenue was routed to a single combined sewer pipe that collected both wastewater from homes and businesses and stormwater from the street. However, the newly constructed sewer pipe beneath 3rd Avenue will now carry all of the street’s stormwater, improving roadway drainage and creating additional capacity for wastewater in the existing combined sewer. This will reduce the risk of polluted overflows into the nearby Gowanus Canal.

The project was funded by DEP, while DDC managed its design and construction. This is the latest in a series of steps that DEP has taken to improve the Gowanus Canal’s water quality. Previously, DEP installed $1.6 billion sewer overflow retention tanks to protect the ongoing Superfund Cleanup of the Gowanus Canal, and completed a $177 million rehabilitation and upgrade of the Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel to bring more oxygenated water from Buttermilk Channel to the head of the canal. DEP also built green infrastructure throughout the Gowanus Canal drainage area to naturally absorb stormwater into the ground.

DEP Commissioner Aggarwala stated, “These drainage improvements proved their worth most recently during the 4th of July rainstorms, as DEP received no reports of sewer backups or street flooding along 3rd Avenue. DEP continues to explore stormwater management solutions for other corridors in Gowanus that experience regular flooding.”

City Council Member Shahana Hanif stated, “Gowanus residents have been inundated with flooding year after year but thanks to this $54 million investment by the Department of Environmental Protection, our neighbors will have the infrastructure to ensure their homes stay dry. With climate change becoming a more ever-present reality for our coastal community, upgrading our storm sewage capacity is essential to building resilient communities.”

By: Dylan Shusterman (Dylan is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2025.)

DDC: $54 Million Storm Sewer Project Alleviates Flooding Along Third Avenue in Gowanus, Brooklyn (July 12, 2023).



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