We are all pretty much oblivious to the excellent work done by the men and women who work at New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). I was once the same way until one day I happened to be in Brooklyn at night traveling along Greenpoint Avenue from Queens in route to meet a friend for dinner in Williamsburgh. Along the way, I spotted several metallic egg-like structures bathed in blue light.
The scene looked more like the set for a sci-fi space adventure. I didn’t realize it then and there, but I was looking at the Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment facility. The largest of New York City’s wastewater treatment plants. It is capable of treating 330 million gallons of the city’s raw sewage before releasing it into the waters of Newton Creek. This one futuristic-looking facility accepts waste from the homes, offices, and other places of business of a million New Yorkers.
In all New York City has 14 sewage treatment plants. Newton Creek, which was built in 1967, has been renovated and expanded several times to keep pace with the city’s growth. In its current configuration, it accepts waste from the East Side, Lower Manhattan, Northern Brooklyn, and Western Queens. The Newton Creek Waste Water treatment plant’s last upgrade cost the city 1 billion Dollars. It is fair to say, based on the volume of sewage the facility can process, that Newton Creek is the jewel in DEP's crown.
The city allows the public to tour the plant three times per year. It is a remarkable tour. During the visit, you’ll receive a close look at what it takes to keep our waterways as clean, as they have become recently. There was once a time where falling into the waters around New York City would be followed up by a trip to the hospital for routine evaluation and maybe a tetanus shot. That’s no longer the case. You can even eat fish caught in the East River nowadays.
This the Newtown Creek tour is so fascinating that I must recommend it as a day trip. The tours are held three days a year. I will link to the DEP website for details. Tours though are February, April, and October. The tours are free, and they fill up quickly, so you will want to register as soon as possible. Oh, one other thing, surprisingly the air inside the plant smells very pleasant. Had I been blindfolded, I might have guessed I was visiting a rose garden. I tip my hat to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for a job well done.
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Click on this moovit link for directions to the Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility.