The Newtown Creek has an infamous past of industrial pollution, but that has not stopped a group of New Yorkers from using it for recreation and helping to get it cleaned up. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
The North Brooklyn Boat Club started two years ago and launches canoes and kayaks from a boatyard along Newtown creek, which is nearly four miles long and runs between Queens and Brooklyn.
"The North Brooklyn Boat Club got started with the sole purpose really of getting us on the water and figuring out how to take care of these waterways," said Dewey Thompson of the North Brooklyn Boat Club.
The creek is one of the country's most polluted industrial sites after decades of dumping, oil spills, and sewage overflows. It is a federal Superfund site targeted for cleanup by the Environmental Protection Agency. So while club members spend a lot of time paddling, they are also trying to raise awareness about the conditions in the creek.
"Advocacy is a big part of the club in terms of our educational mission, but also in terms of advocating for water access and water cleanup," said Jens Rasmussen of the North Brooklyn Boat Club.
The club constantly tests the water and while it is much cleaner closer to the East River, you would still want to hose yourself off if you fell in and try and avoid getting any water in your mouth or eyes. Despite the years of pollution, club members still relish the chance to be on the water.
"To be able to take a sunset paddle out to the river and see New York in a special way is really important to me," said Dustin Brugmann, a North Brooklyn Boat Club member.
"It's no different than someone taking a walk or riding their bicycle. Just another way of getting around the city and enjoy being in the environment," said Justin La Mort, a North Brooklyn Boat Club member.
The hope is that more people getting out on the water means more folks taking an interest in its future.
"If we don't use the water for recreation, we won't care about the water, so we have to be a presence so that we can say, this is not good, you can't dump stuff in the water," said Fung Lim of the North Brooklyn Boat Club.
For more information on the Newtown Creek and the club, visit northbrooklynboatclub.org.