Public Lab Research note

VIDEO: hunting for groundwater springs

by liz | May 06, 2014 21:12 06 May 21:12 | #10434 | #10434

This note is posted in behalf of Eymund, and is reposted from the Flickr Stream of Proteus Gowanus.

Spring hunting

10_2014_3_30 spring hunting with Amara_finding sound of running water in Prospect Park

This is a little movie explaining how Amara and Eymund found the headwaters for Vechte's Brook, a buried stream that flows from a former wetland spring field in Prospect Park. This stream flows down through Park Slope, with a surviving trickle ending up in the Gowanus Canal. The bulk of the waters are now diverted to the City's combined sewer pipe system, causing sewer overflows in the Gowanus Canal.

As part of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Cleanup Plan, the City (and its citizens) has been named a "Potentially Responsible Party" for causing pollution in the Gowanus Canal. This means that they will have to spend 78 million dollars to reduce toxic sewer overflows into the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site.

One solution may be to better understand and restore the hydrology of City owned Park and school sites. Large segments of western Prospect Park used to be wetlands.

Peat beds, which are characteristic of wetland ecosystems, are described here by Dr. Wallace Goold Levison (The Peat Beds of Prospect Park, in Gratacarp's 1909 Geology of the City of New York):

"On Wednesday, February 7, and Thursday, February 8, 1867, I examined a series of peat beds which occupied certain depressions among a group of hills of drift material included within the area of Prospect Park, then in an incipient stage of construction in the City of Brooklyn, N.Y. The highest of these hills, one near Flatbush Avenue, reached an altitude of 185 feet above tide level…

The topography of this area was however, subsequently changed somewhat in the course of construction of the Park… These were filled several years previous to my visit "to abate a nuisance", and Mr Ludlam, then City Surveyor, thought that about ten feet of earth had been thrown over them."

When these were landfilled, the waters they retained were diverted to the sewer system.

Reconstructing wetlands in Prospect Park to divert spring waters, and to divert runoff from paved areas around the Park may be one of the many solutions to help solve the Canal's water quality problems.

You can find out more about these discussions here:

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group

Gowanus Canal Conservancy


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