Members of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Group (CAG) voted to adopt a resolution asking for a total elimination of New York City's Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) into the waterway at a general meeting held Tuesday evening, April 24.
“Total elimination is the best possible solution," said Steve Miller, a member of the CAG. "If a group of engineers has suggested that it’s possible, then we should set our goals at that. We are not the agencies, we are representing the community and our demands can be high and lofty.”
The resolution was drafted by the CAG's Water Quality/Technical Committee after an informational (DEP) refuted the EPA's CSO findings stated in its feasibility report.
"We don’t want a government agency spending our money refuting the EPA’s findings," said Katia Kelly, CAG member and blogger for Pardon Me For Asking. "This is a moment in time, this is our moment to really get the cleanup we want and I think this resolution does it very elegantly. And DEP should really listen to us because it’s the moral thing to do."
To that end, DEP representative Jim Mueller was denied the opportunity to speak before the resolution vote at Tuesday's meeting.
“It would be inappropriate for one PRP [potentially responsible party] to voice their opinions when others aren’t available to do so at the same time," said Josh Verleun, a CAG member from Riverkeeper.
While some members expressed willingness to hear from Mueller in an effort to absorb as much information as possible, those voices were overwhelmingly outnumbered by others who asserted DEP was only present at the meeting to try to influence the CAG's vote.
“We’ve been letting the agencies set the bar for years," said Miller, emphatically. "Why are we doing that? This is the place where we offset all of the other bodies that say 60% or 40% elimination. This is where we can say 100%. We’re never going to get close to that because we never say, ‘Get the sh-t out of our canal!’” Now they have.
A proposed plan from the EPA is anticipated to be delivered in late June.