• Insights

Blue Dumpsters Land in Gowanus, Brooklyn

The 2000 Gallon Project raises awareness about stormwater management and reminds us how we can do our small part

Dumpsters are usually equated with collecting trash, but this summer ten blue dumpsters have landed in Gowanus, Brooklyn, to collect water under the 2,000 Gallon Project (#2KGP). At 3×3, we’ve teamed up with Alloy Development and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC) to promote awareness about wastewater management, green infrastructure, and the effects of the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) that runs into the Gowanus Canal, one of America’s most polluted waterways.

Since the canal was listed as a federal Superfund Site in 2010, $500 million has been designated to clean the canal after decades of industrial and sewer contamination. But these projects can’t solve the problem completely; people also need to contribute to the solution. With Alloy and the GCC, we saw this as an opportunity to reinforce ongoing initiatives by showing how stormwater management plays a critical role in the Gowanus cleanup.

NYC Department of Environmental Protection has installed a Sponge Park to absorb and filter surface water along the canal.

The 2,000 Gallon Project transforms the commercial dumpster into an impactful statement about stormwater management, green infrastructure, and the effects of CSO. Each dumpster can hold up to 2,000 gallons of water (the same amount of stormwater a bioswale can retain), providing a visual unit that highlights the importance of reducing personal water consumption and retaining stormwater.

431 Carroll Street is the heart of the 2,000 Gallon Project and serves as a pop-up nursery, event space, and stewardship center.

The dumpsters also act as a nursery for 20 future street trees, which will be planted this Fall in empty tree pits throughout the neighborhood. These tees will help soak up stormwater, which will go directly to tree roots rather than the sewer system. A mature tree can manage up to 4,000 gallons of stormwater a year.  So protecting mature trees and planting and stewarding young street trees is a critical part of reducing CSO while building a healthy urban ecosystem.

To add to the dumpster’s visual mark, 3×3 developed a walking tour that enables passerbys to explore Gowanus, learn about what happens to our water, and see the efforts that are benefiting the neighborhood. People can scan the QR codes on the side of all #2KGP dumpsters to access mini-tours that guide participants through Gowanus and back to 431 Carroll Street, the basecamp of the 2,000 Gallon Project where GCC will be hosting a pop-up nursery, event space, and stewardship center that is open to visitors over the Summer and Fall.

So what can residents do to prevent CSO events? Take the tour to learn more, and see how you can help make Gowanus blue again.

People can scan the QR codes on the side of all #2KGP dumpsters to access different walking tours.