It’s really pouring in New York today!! After touring the city’s largest wastewater treatment plant at Newtown Creek (you’ve probably noticed the giant metal balls perched on the creek) with the Loomstate office, I’m really glad I missed my 4:30 alarm to head to Rockaway this morning. Did you know after 15 minutes of rain, our sewage treatment plants are at capacity and pour sewage into our waterways?
Yep. For a really good surf, that won’t make you sick, maybe it’s worth checking the surf report and the weather report. Here are some fun and shitty facts I gleaned from the tour…
- The first sewage treatment operations began in 1886. Prior to this the main sewage pipes fed out into the waterway between Rockaway and Coney Island. As the main recreational destination at the time, they had to figure out a way to keep the beaches clean.
- The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 and set standards for wastewater treatment in all US states. New York plants function above the Clean Water Act regulations, processing 94% of all wastewater.
- The 14 treatment plants in New York process 1.8 billion gallons of wastewater per day that is transported through 7,400 miles of sewer pipes.
- New York has 7,400 miles of sewer pipes and 95 waste pumping stations to move the waste to any of the 14 treatment plants.
- Since New York is set up on a one track system, in which our wastewater and sewage meet and are carried through the same treatment process, up to 15 minutes of rain (1/2 an inch of rain max) can be efficiently processed in New York. Passed that, the excess waste is fed into local waterways! Raw sewage that does enter the river is apparently processed by Mother Nature in 21 days…
- The digester eggs seen in the photos below use bacteria to process waste sludge. The separated liquid is mostly treated and pours into our waterways, while the solid sludge is transported to Ohio, Texas, Florida and Colorado to be used as fertilizer in agriculture. This I thought was VERY cool!! But, apparently our sludge contains really terrible chemicals and would not be considered “organic” or ideal for growing healthy crops. Either way, a neat recycling concept.
- Our per capita water usage in New York is 125 gallons per day!! This is considering the water that is used to make the products we use and consume, in addition to your daily water usage.
- New York drinking water is cleaned using UV light, no longer with chlorine.
- NY’s waterways are the cleanest they’ve been in 100 years…this is a positive, but very unimpressive comment since no one would dare touch the Hudson River.
- The manager also said he doesn’t eat corn and rice because it clearly passes through people’s bodies without providing the body with nutrients.
- We should be more conscious of what we put down the drain and flush. Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fats, and non biodegradable materials should not be put down the train, as they can end up right back in your waterways. There are ways to dispose of everything properly, but it might take some local research. Medication especially should be disposed of properly – come pharmacies will accept old pills.
- Simply use less water in your daily life.
- If your favorite surfing spot is near a drainage spot, maybe think twice about surfing after it rains!
- We have great tap water so no need to get a throwout plastic bottle. Bendable plastic breaks down really easily in temperate changes, releasing carcinogenic phthalates into your drinking water (more about phthalates and plastic bottles). On that note, stop accepting plastic bags and straws – they end up in the ocean and along the beach in Rockaway for instance.
- Take a tour of the Newtown Creak facility! It’s worth it, and free.
- DEP website
- Male Fish Turning Female Due to Pollution
- A good resource for New York specific water information