Mucking around New York City’s infamously polluted waterway with the Gowanus Dredgers

May 24, 2024 Elizabeth Kuster
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GOWANUS — I’ll never forget the first time I saw humans on the Gowanus Canal. It was summer in early August, and I was standing on the Third Street Bridge. As the Venetian stench of the canal wafted up, my eyes lit upon a shocking sight: Canoes! In that oil-slicked water! 

I half-expected their little boats to disintegrate like sugar spoons in coffee. Thankfully, they did not.

Those canoers were early members of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club (GDCC), and in the past two decades, their canoes have become a familiar sight on the Gowanus. The Dredgers are passionate advocates for the health of the canal and for the wildlife — including humans — who use it. Recently, club members met at their 2nd Street boathouse to discuss the latest phase of their canal cleanup project, which involves public commentary on the proposed Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) of the Superfund site.

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