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Years of Delay Pushes Gowanus Canal Tank Project to Cost Over $1B

A recent report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General said the city and its own regional office is to blame.
Dredging the Gowanus Canal in 2022.

A recent report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General found that building the two combined open sewer control tanks in the Gowanus Canal will now cost over $1 billion due to years of delay caused by the city and it's own regional office in charge of cleaning up the toxic canal.

The plan to build two combined sewer control tanks, or CSOs, which would limit the amount of wastewater that would flow into the canal, is six years behind schedule, the IG's report said. This may lead the canal to be redredged. 

The city first spent two years designing the CSO tunnel, and the EPA's Region 2 office spent another year evaluating the city's design, according to the IG audit. Then the city defunded design efforts for the smaller Owls Head tank for about four years and allocated those funds to the larger Red Hook tank design.

The EPA Region 2 office then required the city to salvage building materials from existing structures at the larger CSO tank site after the city had completed a significant portion of the design work. This caused an approximate two-year delay, the audit said. 

The audit was initiated in response to an OIG Hotline complaint and congressional interest, the report said The hotline complaint alleged that New York City has failed to construct the tanks in a timely manner and that EPA Region 2 failed to enforce the administrative orders that require the Gowanus Canal Superfund site to have these tanks. 

The IG's Office recommended that EPA Region 2 closely monitor CSO tank construction progress and take immediate action if New York City does not meet the construction requirements and milestones, as well as keep the community apprised to the progress