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Boat Club Members Paddle Through Pollution On Newtown Creek

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Rowing through one of the city's most polluted waterways may not sound like the best way to spend a summer day but one group of people decided to spend their Friday kayaking for a cause.

Members of the North Brooklyn Boat Club took in the skyline as they paddled through the pollution on the Newtown Creek, CBS 2's Janelle Burrell reported.

"You're seeing the city in such a different way. It's stunning," founder Dewey Thompson explained.

Club members didn't seem to mind kayaking just inches above the murky soup that makes up the creek.

"For one thing it's one of the most fascinating waterways in the country. It's where the industrial revolution started for the United States," Thompson said.

Club members regularly paddle through the creek, which winds its way between Brooklyn and Queens, under the Pulaski Bridge, and ebbs in and out of the East River south of Roosevelt Island.

The creek was once a popular dumping spot for businesses. Over several decades an estimated 30 million gallons of sewage and oil have been released into the water, Burrell reported.

"When there's too much rain and a combined sewage overflow happens then you absolutely notice it," Thompson said.

The tide may be turning. The creek is now a mandatory cleanup site for the Environmental Protection Agency and Thompson said that navigating the creek hasn't caused any problems.

"Nobody that we know of at the boat club so far has grown extra fingers," he said.

The 190-member club is working to spread awareness among the public.

"People who participate in this waterway will become stewards of it," Jens Rasmussen said.

The group uses boats that were specifically designated for their public program. In addition to navigating the creek they want to educate the community.

"The North Brooklyn Boat House is about symbolically about positive change," Robert DiMaio explained.

Members hope that change will lead more people to appreciate the club's unique perspective.

The club tests the water on a regular basis and told CBS 2 that it is safe but that it keeps a shower on site and encourages members to wash thoroughly after every outing.

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