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The Conservancy can only continue working to turn the Gowanus Canal into a beautiful, historic, green recreational destination with your generous support.

Event Calendar

Get a glimpse of all of our upcoming events!

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STEM Gowanus Urban Ecology Curriculum

The Conservancy has launched a new middle school curriculum! Learn how to use the new STEM Gowanus Urban Ecology Curriculum both in your classroom and on field visits to the Gowanus Canal.

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2015 Clean & Green Schedule

We have now wrapped up our 2015 season. Thank you to all our volunteers! Please check back soon for our 2016 Clean & Green schedule.

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Gowanus Greenscape

Please participate in our interactive map to let us know what you think of existing public spaces, and where you want more of it!

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About > About GCC

About the Gowanus Canal Conservancy

The Gowanus Canal Conservancy is a community-based non-profit organization that serves as the environmental steward for the Gowanus Canal Watershed.

The Conservancy's vision is an open, clean and alive Gowanus Canal Watershed.

  • Making it open: Creating green space and park land along the shores.
  • Getting it clean: Ensuring the water, soil and air are healthy.
  • Bringing it alive: Fostering ecological, business and cultural activity in the watershed.  

About the Gowanus Canal

Clean and Green

The 1.8 mile long Gowanus Canal was created in the mid-late 1800s on the site of a former saltmarsh and creek and has seen its fair share of environmental issues. For years, it has captured raw sewage waste from adjacent residential neighborhoods, industrial waste products from the businesses located along its banks, and polluted surface run off.  At the same time, the canal is dotted with structures and bridges that celebrate its important industrial history and is home to egrets, cormorants, and other forms of wildlife.  Currently, the area is filled with small industries, businesses, homes and artists’ studios and is slated for rezoning by the City. In 2010 it was granted Superfund status.

Sources of pollution in the canal:

  1. Industrial Pollution from Factories that lined the canal in the late 1800s to mid-1900s dumped their waste in its waters and on nearby land.  The industrial waste dumped onto the land not only contaminates the land but is also continually leeching into the canal waters.  Pollutants that settled out of canal waters poisoned the sediments throughout the length of the canal.
  2. Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs):  The Gowanus Watershed is the area of land surrounding the Gowanus Canal and which drains into the canal.  The watershed extends well uphill from the canal into Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, and Cobble Hill.  The sewer system throughout New York City is a combined system:  the sewer pipes leading from our toilets, bathtubs, sinks, etc. are connected to the pipes that drain rainwater from the street.  When weather conditions are dry, the raw sewage is allowed to travel to the sewage treatment plant.  But during a typical rainstorm, the rainwater in this combined system which falls within the Gowanus Watershed (i.e., the areas in the surrounding neighborhoods that drain into the canal) throws off the proper functioning of the sewer system:  the excess rainwater is mixed with raw sewage and released into the Gowanus Canal.
  3. Surface Runoff:  There are contaminants on the streets that are also carried into the canal when it rains.