NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - When it rains, a place called Sponge Park in Brooklyn starts to work. Landscape architect Susannah Drake helped design the park. It sits at the end of Second Street along the Gowanus Canal. Basically the water flows down the street and it flows into a sedimentation basin so that grabs all the water.
The Gowanus Canal was dredged centuries ago to move industrial commerce. It is still used today to transport scrap metal. It's one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States -- as a federally designated superfund site. That means federal dollars are being spent to try to clean up the canal.
The park captures rain water flowing down Second Street, filters out waste and toxic materials using plants, soil and gravel.
Drake was a child when President Nixon signed into law the Clean Water Act. That legislation now enables her to do a lot of the work that she believed as a kid. She lives in Brooklyn not too far from Sponge Park.
Scientists from Manhattan College will be checking on the progress of Sponge Park. They've stored equipment monitoring equipment under canisters to check after a big storm. This is a pilot project opens officially in the spring. If it is a success sponge parks might pop up in other places along the canal.
Drake knows the park won't improve the contaminated canal, but she takes pride in knowing this canal isn't getting worse.