Mayor Bloomberg Holds Press Conference On NYC Water System Improvements Just Steps Away from A Very Foul Gowanus

Council Member James F. Gennaro, Mayor Bloomberg, DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland
DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland and Mayor Bloomberg
DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland
Today at noon, Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference at the Gowanus Canal Pumping Station to pat himself on the back for investing over $20 Billion on New York City's Water system since 2002. Joining him were DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland and Council Member and Chair of the Council's Committee on Environmental Protection, James F. Gennaro.
Bloomberg also announced that $190 million dollars has been allocated by his administration to upgrade the Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel and Waste Water Pumping Station at the head of the canal. "Despite the delays caused by Hurricane Sandy, this year we will still complete the pump station as well as the flushing tunnel that will circulate water from Buttermilk Channel to the canal and will significantly improve water quality," he told the press.

DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland proudly mentioned that "these upgrades will not only increase capacity, they will help alleviate neighborhood flooding and reduce Combined Sewer Overflow into the canal by 34%."

Though this was good news for Gowanus, the real reason for the conference was made clear almost immediately. In his thinly disguised speech, Mayor Bloomberg, who has lobbied hard against the Environmental Protection Agency declaring the Gowanus Canal a Superfund Site, took a jab at the Federal Government

"Unfortunately, we have also had to content with underfunded mandates from the Federal Government that have meant higher costs and less efficiency. And you should complain to the Federal Government about these.  Over the last decade, 65% of DEP's capital spending went to address federal mandates. That alone costs the average NY City home owner $258 this year on their water bill. Some of these were necessary investments, but the fact that we were required to build them all regardless of immediate need or construction costs made all of the work more expensive and inefficient."

How very ironic that just steps away, the Gowanus Canal was looking and smelling even worse than it had in quite some time. Last week's heavy rain had caused raw sewage to flow into the canal and the surface of the water was littered with human waste.
I hope that Mayor Bloomberg had a chance to peek at the canal before dashing back to Manhattan.
Perhaps it would have helped him to understand that the 34% reduction in CSOs he was speaking of did not sound like all that much to members of the community.

And perhaps he would have felt just a bit foolish about opposing EPA's suggestion to install  retention basins to alleviate the problems in a more significant way.

Today's conference was nothing but grandstanding and an effort to smear the EPA in an attempt to delay dealing with the CSOs.

I have come to expect the very least from our three-term Mayor.