New storm sewer system in Gowanus set to reduce street flooding

July 12, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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GOWANUS — Construction has been completed on the $54 million installation of new storm sewers along Third Avenue in Gowanus, a group of high-ranking city officials announced on Wednesday.

The additional capacity in the neighborhood’s drainage system is already helping to reduce street flooding and the amount of pollution that may be discharged into the Gowanus Canal during heavy rainstorms.  

Funding was provided by the Department of Environmental Protection, while the Department of Design and Construction managed the construction.

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

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“Gowanus is a vulnerable area, and we’re proud to help improve the situation for residents,” said DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley. “DDC and DEP are developing new infrastructure within the mayor’s Cloudburst Resiliency Program that includes not just larger sewers but also thousands of curbside rain gardens and now the use of porous pavement that allows for better natural stormwater drainage.”

“Upgrading and expanding our underground infrastructure is one of the most effective tools we have against excessive water, protecting communities from heavy rainstorms and torrential floods,” said Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi. “By increasing the capacity for rainwater with larger and separate storm sewer pipes, DEP provides critical protection for the Gowanus community.

Before work began, drainage for the area around Third Avenue was routed to a single combined sewer pipe, which collected both wastewater from surrounding homes and businesses as well as stormwater from the street. 

The main component of this project involved building a new sewer pipe under Third Avenue to carry only stormwater.  This dedicated stormwater pipe improves roadway drainage while also creating additional capacity for wastewater in the existing combined sewer

This, in turn, reduces the chance of any polluted overflows into the nearby Gowanus Canal.

Construction was completed over the course of two capital projects. Phase 1 started in March 2016 and Phase 2, which ended this month, started in October 2018. Design of the two projects was also completed in-house by DDC’s Infrastructure Design team rather than by outside contractors, reducing costs.

As part of construction, more than a mile of new storm sewers were installed along Third Avenue, between Carroll and State Streets, as well as from Third to Fourth avenues for each of the east/west thoroughfares between Carroll and State streets.  

The construction of nine storm chambers and 74 catch basins will help to drain precipitation from the roadways and alleviate localized flooding. Existing catch basin drainage connections were switched from the combined sewer to the new storm sewer.  

In addition, while the roadway was open to construct the sewers, more than two miles (10,820 linear feet) of older cast-iron pipes were replaced with concrete-lined ductile water mains, which are less prone to breakage than the cast iron pipes used decades ago. 

Local elected officials praised the project.

“The completion of the Third Avenue high-level storm sewers marks a new chapter in Gowanus’ history. Modernizing our city’s infrastructure is imperative, especially in areas that have suffered unfortunate health and safety issues for generations, like Gowanus,” said Borough President Antonio Reynoso. 

“I am thrilled at the news of the Gowanus high-level storm sewers finishing construction, a desperately needed infrastructure upgrade that will reduce flooding and protect the Gowanus Canal from more pollution and waste,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.

“Investments in high-level storm sewers will protect the Gowanus Canal from further pollution and protect our neighborhoods from future flooding,” said Councilmember Lincoln Restler. 

“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,” said Councilmember Shahana Hanif. 

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