The Green Pits of Gowanus

Environmental officials recently opened four “green” spaces on Dean Street near the Gowanus Canal in an effort to absorb water during heavy rainstorms. The rainwater usually results in the sewer systems overflowing into the waterway.

The $16,000 drainage ditches, located in Park Slope near Fourth Avenue, are filled with mulch and shrubs capable of absorbing 7,200 gallons of water. However, at just 80 square feet, the pits cannot handle heavy rainstorms. According to city planners, the pits will overflow and be relatively ineffective when it pours.

Despite these facts, Carter Strickland of the Department of Environmental Protection supports the project. He said: “They are a perfect example of how green infrastructure projects not only help retain stormwater, but also beautify our streets and sidewalks.”

Some residents remain skeptical, and doubt that the pits will have any significant impact. Still, supporters of the project believe it is a small step towards improving the canal’s water quality.

“This is a quick and easy step in the right direction” Craig Hammerman of Community Board 6 said.

According to Strickland, the plan is to install green roofs, rain barrels and many more of the landscaped pits, in order to manage 10% of runoff in the area.


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)gowanuslounge.com.