The Gowanus Low Altitude Mapping project is popularly referred to by its acronym: GLAM and is located in Brooklyn, New York.
Overview and Goals
The Gowanus Canal Conservancy is conducting environmental investigations in the Gowanus Canal sub-watershed by using balloons and kites to capture aerial imagery. The Gowanus Low-Altitude Mapping (GLAM) project aims to document the changing urban landscape of the watershed. The effort started when the Conservancy sought access to accurate and current base information for the canal and adjacent areas. There was also an interest in gathering information about the health and proliferation of plant communities along the canal; both those introduced to the canal by the Conservancy's efforts as well as emergent, "pioneer" communities. The Conservancy will use this information to identify troubled areas along the canal, track the progress of areas that have been improved with plantings or street end gardens, and create a valuable visualization of both the positive and negative influence we all can have on this fascinating waterway.
We have completed a four-part set of seasonal imagery from 2011, which is hosted in our archive. Sometimes we use a stereo camera rig to collect infrared imagery in addition to visible imagery. The data documents patterns/concentrations of vegetation or possible contaminants, monitors the stormwater retention design interventions that the GCC is installing along the canal edge, and reveals unknown or unidentified pipes or sources of groundwater entering the canal. In the long-term, this inquiry effort seeks to address the 300M gallons of untreated sewage that will continue entering the canal yearly even after the EPA finishes their Superfund clean-up of the toxic sediments at the bottom of the canal. See the Proteus Gowanus Flickr gallery for our collection of aerial imagery.
GLAM Goals: 1) Promoting GCC work and other forms of "media impact", 2) Conducting primary environmental research in the canal watershed, 3) Educating and reaching out to community members and a wider audience, 4) Discovering good/best environmental management practices, 5) Enforcing environmental regulations, 6) Advocating for changes in policy and management, and 7) Developing and improving open-source environmental sensing technology.
The Spring 2011 Gowanus imagery has been republished by Google in Google Earth, and the salt lot map is now the default layer in Google Maps -- with attribution to "Public Laboratory": http://goo.gl/maps/LB9xI
GLAM's very first pictures of melted ice (January 2011) are leading to full-blown Greenway proposals for the restoration of Vechte's Brook (now the landfilled 5th Street Basin), the water course that ties the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park Plan to Park Slope's existing Washington Park.
See the January 2011 map below and on flickr
The summer 2011 imagery has captured the largest extent of the canal to date, almost a mile:
List of Maps
October 2010 -- first discussions br> January 2011 -- first outing on a particularly arctic Saturday Proteus_Balloon_Photography_Exhibit_Winter_2011_Part_1.pdf
br> March 2011 -- spring "mud season" mapping br> July 2011 -- summer "peak canopy extent" mapping br> November 2011 -- autumn "fall color" mapping br> [insert Eymund's list of mapping expeditions here] br> [expansion to Gowanus Canal subwatershed] br>
Liberty Industrial Gas, a woman-owned company located on the banks of the Gowanus:
Gowanus Water Quality Data
An image of fresh groundwater flowing into the Gowanus Canal in December 2012. The dark, clear water was made visible due to increased opacity of the Canal's waters following the failure of sewage infrastructure caused by Hurricane Sandy:
The EPA took a lot of water quality sampling data for the Gowanus, which is available at:
see this appendix for water data http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/gowanus/pdf/2011-12-19_Gowanus_Canal_Draft_FS_Appendix_B.pdf
The NYC Dept of Environmental Protection has a Harbor Water Quality Survey which includes three sampling points in the Gowanus
The Gowanus Canal also hosts many technical development innovations. Thermal imaging is a newly developed approach to identify where warmer ground water is entering the cool waters of the canal. A thermal fishing bob can be towed through the water by a canoe. The temperature is displayed on a RGB LED. Data is collected by a timelapse camera set up on shore. Imagined and prototyped by Eymund Diegel, now Kaya Simmons is continuing the research in Boston and NYC. Follow along at http://publiclab.org/tag/thermal-photography.
The Water Hackathon in 2012 engaged Leif Percifield and team to create a water quality sensor for deployment in the Gowanus Canal. Follow along with developments in water quality sensors here: http://publiclab.org/tag/water-quality-sensor.
There are speculations by Jeff Laut and Eymund that dye tracing and underwater photography can help reveal where street drains empty into the Gowanus through previously un-noticed pipes. Follow along at http://publiclab.org/tag/dye-tracing I am attaching the Gowanus Canal Water Sampling report done in 2011 by National Grid, one of the parties responsible for cleaning up the Canal pollutants, which also includes methadone and estrogen readings, contaminants not covered in the EPA or NYCDEP datasets.
The New York City Water Trail Association posts the Citizen water sampling for enterococcus (sewer contamination) is here:
http://www.nycwatertrail.org/CWQT_2012.html (2012 map)
For things living in Gowanus water you can have a look at this invertebrate sampling report: http://issuu.com/proteusgowanus/docs/2004-gowanus-canal-invertebrate-sampling-report
There are old fresh water streams that used to feed the salt marsh. Thei outflows are located at the end of Degraw Street, the First Street landfill basin and the Fourth Street Basin (2 sites, one underneath the 3rd Ave Bridge, and one at Dykes Lumber parking lot). Historically these spring and watershed fed streams provided the potable water supply for early settlers farm houses.
If you are looking for a water profiling exercise, you can look at contaminants coming out of those piped streams, and what would need to be done to get them drinkable, if possible.
NYCDEP did some similar work trying to see if there was any possibility of developing a backup drinking water supply in South Brooklyn--the Ridgewood system-- but found groundwater to be too contaminated.
Below: a picture of Staat's Brook in the Fourth Street Basin photographed in November 2013 during the installation of Harvest Dome, an art project meant to help spark further dialogue about city water quality.
_Below: an image of Brouwer's Spring inflow: _
Photo Credit: Mike Weiss of the Brooklyn Eagle