New York antiquated sewage system, a relic of 19th-century engineering, works well enough most of the time, but heavy rains cause overflows that currently dump 27 billion gallons of mixed raw sewage into the city’s waterways each year. Ate Atema and his colleagues at Flow Collaborative have come up with a possible solution, using the rapidly gentrifying area around Brooklyn’s polluted Gowanus Canal as a test case.
The plan, called Street Creeks, would involve the creation of a network of covered curbside channels for storm runoff. Catch basins would strain off large pollutants while cisterns would collect and store the water, keeping it from being dumped into the Gowanus Canal as overflow. Meanwhile, the city’s sewer system, its burden of processing stormwater runoff significantly lightened, would be able to focus on its core function of treating the city's sewage.
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