Does looking at your neighbors’ processed waste warm your heart? Is environmental protection your passion. The annual Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility tour is likely your ideal Valentine’s Day date. And this year, you can do it in your PJs, as the popular event has turned to Zoom for 2021.
On February 14, 2021, the NYC Department of Environment Protection (DEP) and Open House New York will host a virtual tour of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, offering a digital peek inside the city’s largest sewage plant. Here, wastewater, collected from storm drains, toilets and sinks of more than one million New Yorkers, is cleaned each day in a complex system, which includes Greenpoint’s eight iconic giant stainless steel digester eggs.
“The Valentine’s Day tour is a crowd favorite!” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “This year, we’ll be hosting the tour virtually and while we’ll miss seeing everyone in person, the virtual format not only keeps us all safe, it also allows us to showcase parts of the facility that the public wouldn’t normally have access to.”
Originally opened in 1967 to treat wastewater from portions of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, located in Greenpoint, is the largest of New York City’s fourteen treatment plants. In the 1990s, DEP began the planning for a comprehensive, $5 billion upgrade of the facility to meet new standards of wastewater treatment.
“Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility is the crown jewel of our urban water system and one of the most popular Open House New York Weekend sites,” said Open House New York co-interim executive director Dorothy Dunn. “Besides, what’s more romantic than a hard hat tour? We are thrilled to partner with DEP to share our love of New York infrastructure virtually this Valentine’s Day.”
This virtual program will focus on the facility’s award-winning architecture, and the ways in which design innovation helped balance the requirements of large-scale water pollution control with community amenities, like improved waterfront access and public art. Participants will learn about how the digester eggs got their shape, why you should not take a shower during a rainstorm, and the real problem with so-called “flushable” wipes. The program will include a behind-the-scenes video tour, a conversation with DEP Director of Public Design Outreach Alicia West, and time for audience Q&A.
The tour will be hosted on Sunday, February 13 at 4:30 pm. Tickets for the Zoom event are $5 and on sale through February 13.