A Romantic Getaway?

A romantic idea for next Valentine’s Day.

A romantic idea for next Valentine’s Day.

By: Maureen Krudner

Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, with gifts of flowers, candy and jewelry. Was this pretty routine? How about something different next year? The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant offers a Valentine’s Day Tour and it is well worth the trip.

The facility is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and is the largest of New York City’s 14 wastewater treatment plants. The plant takes wastewater from residences of approximately 1 million New Yorkers spread over 25 square miles. A multitude of facts about our wastewater system are available online, easily found.

Alligators in the sewer? Find out the truth behind the rumors.

Alligators in the sewer? Find out the truth behind the rumors.

The tour brings more than those facts. The visitor center, which educates numerous school groups on the city’s water system from supply to wastewater, pays homage to the undying legend of alligators in our sewer system. You get a look at the internal workings of fire hydrants. You also get to see the inside of water supply sampling stations, used to ensure our drinking water is safe.

Greenpoint’s wastewater treatment plant is the largest in New York City

Greenpoint’s wastewater treatment plant is the largest in New York City

Leaving the visitor center, we took an express elevator 13 stories to the viewing deck. From here, we get a good look at the eight state-of-the-art stainless steel digester eggs. These ‘eggs’ break down the organic material removed from sewage and produce material which can eventually be used as fertilizer. Combining form and function, the eggs are illuminated at night, making them a landmark for travelers on the city’s highways and bridges. In addition to getting a bird’s eye view of the plant, we were treated to fabulous views of the Manhattan skyline and the plant’s surrounding industrial areas. Oh, speaking of treats, did I mention the chocolate kisses we were given on arrival?

Being familiar with the wastewater treatment process, the most educational part for me was hearing the reaction of the other visitors. So many guests were amazed at the amount of effort that goes into providing a safe source of drinking water and then cleaning it up after we’re done using it. This is something that’s easily taken for granted.

For information on the NYC Wastewater Treatment Plants:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/wastewater/index.shtml

 

For information on the NYC Water Supply:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/drinking_water/index.shtml

About the Author: Maureen Krudner works in the Clean Water Division of EPA Region 2.