Take Action!

Over 363 million gallons of combined sewer overflow (CSO) enter the Gowanus Canal each year and pollute our waterway. Here are some of the many ways YOU can take action:

Learn about Gowanus with a self-guided walking tour!

Take a walk through the Gowanus neighborhood using this handy walking tour guide! Learn about the past, present, and future of Gowanus and dig into some of the most pressing environmental issues in the neighborhood, along with the most innovative solutions. You can also learn more about the Gowanus Canal by following along with this video.

Take the Water Use Challenge!

Calculate how much water you use at home and school every day with this simple and interactive calculator. Can you and your friends, classmates, and family members reduce water use during rainstorms and in general? Take the Water Use Challenge by calculating your initial water use, reducing where you can, and reporting back with your new results! You can also monitor your school’s water use and host a schoolwide campaign to reduce water. Do a full audit or focus on one part of the school water use (toilets, for example). 

Spread the word!

Learn and teach others about CSO. Ask your followers to commit to reducing water use during rainstorms. Spread the word on social media using the hashtag #CleanTheCanal. Check out this video to see how other students are tackling CSO.

Send a letter or email advocating for cleaner waterways!

There are many sustainable, cost effective solutions to help clean the Gowanus Canal and surrounding NYC waterways. Find your city council member and other elected officials here and send them your ideas. Read more about sustainable solutions for water reuse, green infrastructure, and smart systems if you need help. 

Design green infrastructure for your school!

Create a proposal to build green infrastructure on your schoolshed. You can include a green roof, rain garden, rain barrel, and other systems that capture, re-use, or conserve water. Watch this video of students that created proposals for their schools. Look at Grow NYC’s Green Infrastructure Tool Kit to read about different green infrastructure options. Share your designs with the school principal or other school decision makers.

Make your school or home a better sponge!

Plant a rain garden to capture stormwater, or add mulch and compost to street trees, which increases the amount of rain they can soak up. NYC Parks also has a guide on tree stewardship, with basic steps for tree care. You can also make a request for Trees New York to plant a new tree in your schoolyard. If you want to go the extra mile, measure the total square footage of tree beds and green space you stewarded to see and share your impact.