If you have ever been to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, you may have noticed a cluster of giant silver egg-like structures rising about a hundred feet off the ground. No, you aren’t dreaming – these structures are real, and they play a big role in the Newtown Creek wastewater treatment (WWT) plant, the largest of New York City’s 14 plants which together process billion gallons of waste water daily.
On Earth Day we went on a special tour of the Newtown Creek plant, via the City College of New York’s New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA) chapter. While the general public can tour the plant four times a year (including on Valentine’s Day), they do not get to see what our tour group saw, which was an on-the-ground glimpse of the plant’s operation.
For those who couldn’t make it, we wanted to share some photos of our time at Newtown Creek. We hope you enjoy, and recommend you visit the plant when you can to learn more about how water works in New York City.
Yours truly, posing in front of one of the Newton Creek plant’s main pipelines.
Clean, recycled water pours – in vast amounts – out of the plant, back into New York City’s extensive and world-famous water system. If the water does not appear clean, it is due to turbulence, not the water’s composition.
The crisscrossing network of bridges gives an idea of the complexity of the plant, and how closely each step of the WWT process can be monitored.
A close up and behind the scenes view of one of the ‘eggs’, which serves as giant waste-water processors that work via a process called anaerobic digestion.
The anaerobic digestion process uses heat, time and lack of oxygen to break down the bacteria in the organic material removed from sewage known as sludge, extracting usable materials such as water and methane gas. The “digested sludge” is then further processed for uses such as fertilizer.
The view of Manhattan from the top of the egg. Not bad!