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Gowanus Canal Sponge Park



2 Million USD

Project Status

Operational since 2016



Challenges Addressed

Stormwater Management
Ecosystem Degradation
Essential Services
Water Quality


Resilient city
Sustainable city

Project Type


At a Glance

"The Gowanus Canal Sponge Park is a multifunctional public open space system that slows, absorbs and filters surface water runoff to remediate contaminated water, activate the canal waterfront, and control stormwater runoff. After the Gowanus Canal was designated an EPA Superfund site in 2010, the project emerged as a vision to prevent further pollution of the canal and improve access through a series of interconnected public spaces. DLANDstudio, the project designer, calls this park “sponge park” because of its ability to slow, absorb, and filter surface water runoff through a series of landscape buffers and constructed wetlands. Underground tanks intercept street sewer drains in order to capture and store polluted runoff. The tanks release collected water slowly into the artificial wetlands, where it will be filtered and cleaned before entering the canal. It is estimated that the park will capture nearly 1 million gallons of stormwater annually. In addition to the new park, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Design and Construction built 70 specially designed curbside rain gardens throughout South Brooklyn. In total, the rain gardens have the capacity to collect and absorb nearly 133,000 gallons of stormwater when it rains. It is estimated that they will capture more than 6 million gallons of stormwater each year, thereby reducing sewer overflows into the Gowanus Canal and improving the health of the waterway. This project, which includes the park and rain gardens, is a pilot program. The long term vision includes 11.4 acres of revitalized canal space: 7.9 acres of esplanade and recreational open spaces, and 3.5 acres of remediation wetland basins. "

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