The Gowanus Canal in New York City is known to be one of the most polluted waterways in the United States. You can imagine everyone’s surprise, then, when an oasis of greenery was spotted sprouting on the surface of the river three weeks ago.
Not only is the brackish water’s appeal improved with the improbable garden, the stream is being cleansed at the same time.
Called GrowOnUs, the project is an experiment in “floating infrastructure” that utilizes a process called phytoremediation to purify the waterway. Over thirty different kinds of plants act as sponges to clean, desalinate, and mitigate the chemicals affecting the murky canal.
The flora is grown inside the very same metal culvert piping used to carry sewage waste into the waterway, reports GoodNewsNetwork. The “test tubes” are made buoyant by environmentally sustainable construction materials like coconut fibers and bamboo.
New York company Balmori Associates, which specializes in creating eco-friendly sustainable infrastructure, is responsible for taking action on the GrowOnUs project after receiving a $20,000 grant from the Cornelia & Michael Bessie Foundation. Diana Balmori explains in the video above that three attempts had already been made to produce a sustainable patch of vegetation in the waters, but the pollution had been too much for the plants.
Now, using tougher, more conditioned greenery, the garden is thriving and benefiting the canal.
Ideally, project GrowOnUs will deliver a positive change in shoreline protection, wildlife activity, and financial income for the city. Some even hope it becomes the next wave in locally-grown food.
Said Balmori in a press release:
“We have pioneered floating landscapes, we now want to learn what can make these floating structures financially sustainable. Dr. Michael Balick at the New York Botanical Garden suggested we grow herbs, low maintenance crops.”
“In a few years NYC restaurants may be serving meals and drinks infused with herbs [and fruits] grown on one of these islands.”