At first sight it’s obvious that the Gowanus Canal is filthy. Yet, residents continue to congregate around it, canoe across it, build vessels to tour it, and wonder if its beauty will ever again surpass its usefulness as an industrial center. Efforts to revitalize expansive industrial lots in the area have advanced, with bars, restaurants and music venues opening along Second and Third Avenues. Artists work in nearby studios, and the BKLYN Yard, a venue alongside the canal, draws young people from all over the city to afternoon dance parties, barbecues and swap meets on summer weekends. However, over 150 years of heavy industrial activity combined with sewage and storm water run-off, and its proximity to factories and gas refineries have made the canal a site of controversy since the Environmental Protection Agency announced in April that the waterway is a candidate for the Superfund National Priorities List.