The heavily polluted Gowanus Canal was made a Superfund site just two years ago by the Environmental Protection Agency, which will help clean up the body of water once dubbed “the Lavender Lake.” Last week, the EPA announced just how much it will cost to clean up the canal – a whopping $467 to $504 million. The massive undertaking will require a total dredging of the entire canal to remove the contaminants on its floor.

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The causes of pollution during the history of the Gowanus Canal are as complex as the contaminants in the water. A culture of industrialism along the canal has deposited over a hundred years of toxins from paper mills, tanneries and chemical plants that left their chemical byproducts as sediment on the canal floor. PCBs, copper, mercury and lead join the raw sewage that is continuously discharged by city sewer overflows.

In order to tackle these multiple sources, the plan is to dredge the entire 1.8 miles of canal, removing the contaminant sediment from the bottom, as well as divert the raw sewage that is spewed into the water during overflow by installing giant holding tanks. Two thirds of the canal will be dredged, with sediments mixed with concrete to stabilize them, while the less polluted other section will be capped with sand. The cleanup plan isn’t something that will happen overnight, and the planning phase should be complete in late 2014 with an expected completion date of 2020.

Via NY Mag