Is it because of the Hershey’s Kisses we were offered during our visit on Valentine’s Day? Or because the water blue lighting was imagined by Hervé Descottes, an award nominee French designer? Whatever it is that brought us to the Newtown Creek Wastewater treatment plant in Brooklyn on Valentine’s Day was probably a bit crazy. Yet it was so much worth it that we want to take you there on a date with us! Don’t worry; you don’t have to sacrifice a romantic day for it: the place is regularly opened to the public.
As enthusiastically recalled by Jim Pynn, the director of the facility, the now famous 8 egg-shaped buildings are a newly added landmark in the New York City skyline which fills out essential water cleaning services for approximately 1 million residents.
Have you ever wondered what happens to the water you use in NYC? Inhabitants in the Green Apple are fortunate enough to benefit from almost pure natural water from protected watersheds areas in upstate New York. But once used, water may contain grease, solid materials or sludge. It’s the latter that’s processed in the 133-foot-high steel egg-shaped digester tanks from where visitors get unique skyline views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
Not clear yet as to the link with our green topic? Well not only does the treatment reduce water pollution since the water released from the plant in the East River meets safety standards, but it also produces renewable energy. The structures use bacteria to reduce the sludge and, after a 15 days digestion, generate methane as a by-product which is used to power part of the energy needs of the facility instead of using fossil fuels. On top of that, the digested sludge that remains can be used as a fertilizer.
Still not tempted? Here is an alternative option: the Department of Environmental Protection which manages both the City’s water supply and the facility has also created a “nature walk” around the perimeter, including a fragrance garden and, yes, access to the creek. From there you’ll be able to see the plant lit up in blue at night, making you feel submerged by the water nearby.
Promise: you’ll see your water footprint in a different light!
Visitor Center at Newtown Creek
329 Greenpoint Avenue
Greenpoint, Brooklyn NY, 11222
(Enter at the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and Humboldt Street.)
Newtown Creek Nature Walk: