New York to Build Spongy Park to Clean Up Mucky Waterways

How would you clean up New York’s waterways? Would you build giant filtration plants? Would you promote green movements that encourage New Yorkers to clean up their acts and pollute less? Would you take the political route and push for legislation that limits the amount of pollution in New York waterways?

There really are dozens of different routes you could take, and virtually every single one of them has already been tried. Cleaning up New York, especially the Gowanus Canal, is a nearly impossible task. With the unfortunate design of the New York sewage system, heavy rain causes the sewers to overflow and spill their unfortunate contents into the waterways.

Gowanus Canal Sponge Park

Image: Spongepark

Designer Susannah Drake of dlandstudio may have come up with a clever solution to the problem by building something that nobody would have expected: a park. Yes, evidently the best way to clean up a stinky, disgusting waterway is to build a park next to it.

Rendering of the Sponge Park

Image: Spongepark

But not just any park. Drake imagines a special marshy type of park that uses special plants, architecture, and dirt to create a sponge-like effect. Appropriately dubbed “Sponge Park,” the park will serve to soak up all of the Gowanus Canal’s unmentionables while filtering it to clean its water in a natural, green way. Did you know that sunflowers can actually filter out heavy metals from the water? Or that pond weed can suck up PCBs? Well, it’s true, and they each do their jobs about as effectively as any manmade filtration system.

Sponge Park from the Street

Image: Spongepark

And on top of all the water purification aspects, Sponge Park has the added advantage of being a naturally beautiful location that can host a range of public activities, and will help to improve the looks (and smell) of one of New York’s stinkiest areas. Plans to get the Sponge Park built are already in the works. The project is being funded by a Department of Environmental Protection grant, and the mayor of New York is behind the project. But I mean, really, what’s not to love about the design? It’s green, it’s natural, it’s beautiful, and it will soak up all of disgusting things floating through the Gowanus Canal.

The Sponge Park Along the Gowanus Canal

Image: Spongepark

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