Storing CSO in the Middle of Brooklyn - Overcoming the Challenges Abound

Last Modified: Sep 04, 2018


  • Norman Bradley PE, Geoffrey M. Grant PE, Kevin Clarke PE, Lindsay Degueldre PE, Natalia Perez PE

Present-day Gowanus Canal and the CSO outfall RH-034 and OH-007 to be addressed per the Record of Decision (ROD).

In more than one half of the typical year storm events, flow could be contained within the first storage cell; the second cell would not be used for more than half of storms in a typical year when operating sequentially.

Cross Section Showing Grit Cyclones.

Proposed Layout of Pump Back System Configuration.

The Gowanus Canal, located in the borough of Brooklyn, has been an industrial center for New York City since the mid-1800’s when the tidal marshes were filled-in and the Canal was channelized to promote the movement of goods and materials to and from the heavy industry that developed along the Canal, including manufactured gas plants, coal yards, cement makers, soap makers, tanneries, paint and ink factories, machine shops, chemical plants, and oil refineries.

Over time, these industrial operations contributed to the extensive contamination found in and around the Canal which was the primary reason why the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added the Gowanus Canal to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) on March 2, 2010. The Superfund designated remedy, included in the Record of Decision (ROD), focused on the contamination associated with the manufactured gas plant (MGP) which was located near the head end of the canal, under the present-day Thomas Greene Park and Douglas-Degraw (Double D) Pool.

The regulatory and technical challenges associated with the design of a CSO facility to comply with a Superfund federal requirement presented the design team the unique opportunity to develop innovative solutions that will provide DEP with an operable facility that can be constructed within the timeline allowed by the Settlement Agreement.

The process for evaluating and identifying solutions stemmed from detailed assessments of existing CSO facilities to understand the operational challenges and the design decisions that resulted in the noted challenges – effectively building upon past practice and lessons learned to create a better facility than the last. Once the issues were identified, the design team worked collaboratively with key stakeholders, including DEP’s Bureau of Wastewater Treatment (BWT) and Bureau of Water and Sewer Operations (BWSO) through a series of workshop meetings to confirm that the proposed engineering solutions would in fact address the operational concerns regarding a facility of this size, located in a dense urban environment, characterized with old infrastructure.

In most cases, the solution is based on basic engineering principles, applied in creative ways to address the unique challenges of this project.

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