The Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund plan to clean up Brooklyn’s insanely polluted Gowanus Canal has acquired a surprising–but probably necessary–new prong: giant, $78 million holding tanks to keep sewage overflow from seeping into the waterway. Initially, the EPA hoped only to dredge some of the toxic scum from the Gowanus’s bottom, but when they realized how much pollution was coming from sewage, they modified their course. “The [combined sewage overflows] are not the dominant source of toxic pollution at this point, but they are an important source of it,” said the EPA’s Walter Mudgan, “and the importance of that source will increase when the other sources are cut off.” In other words, there’s no sense in cleaning up the canal if it’s going to be filled with shit again every time it rains.

The community seems to be embracing the plan. “We have been trying to get the city to do something about the [sewer] pollution forever,” said Linda Mariano, co-founder of Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus. “It’s a very good thing that they are going to make the effort. That’s what we have been advocating for, for all of these years — I’m happy.”

(Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr)