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Gowanus Canal as it flows under the Gowanus Expressway.
Gowanus Canal as it flows under the Gowanus Expressway (Photo Credit: NYDEC)

Draft Damage Assessment Plan for Gowanus Canal, NY Open for Public Comment

March 4, 2024

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on behalf of the Gowanus Canal Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Trustees, invites public comment on a Draft Damage Assessment Plan (PDF, 57 pages), which details the Trustees’ proposed approach to conducting a natural resource damage assessment for the Gowanus Canal. We encourage the public to review the draft plan and share comments through June 14, 2024.

The Gowanus Canal is a 1.8-mile-long canal in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, on the westernmost portion of Long Island. It has suffered from many decades of pollution, from multiple sources including hazardous waste sites, runoff, and combined sewers.

The Gowanus Canal was built in the mid-1800s and once served as a major commercial route to New York Harbor. A variety of industries historically operated along its banks, including manufactured gas and chemical plants, mills, and tanneries. These facilities released multiple contaminants into the canal, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), coal tar wastes, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are also a source of pollution to the canal.

NRDAR is the regulatory process to determine the amount and type of restoration needed to compensate the public for injuries to natural resources resulting from the release of hazardous substances into the environment. The Draft Plan describes the Trustees’ proposed approach to assess natural resource and resource service injuries resulting from the release of hazardous substances in the Gowanus River.

The Gowanus Canal NRDAR Trustees include the Department of Commerce, represented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Department of the Interior, represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the State of New York, represented by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Get Involved

Public participation is an important part of the NRDAR process. Comments on the Draft Assessment Plan are available until June 14, 2024. Comments can be submitted in writing to:

  • or
  • NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Natural Resource Damages Section
    c/o Alicia Pasos
    625 Broadway, 14th Floor
    Albany, NY 12233

After the comment period closes, the Trustees will review the comments and prepare the Final Damage Assessment Plan. Any comments received will be summarized in the Final Damage Assessment Plan and included in full in the publicly available Administrative Record.

Dan Gefell
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(607) 753-9334

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