The Digester Eggs are an elegant marriage of form and function. While they are part of the largest wastewater treatment plant in New York City, they are also award-winning landmarks of industrial design. The complex’s dramatic lighting scheme sets the eggs shimmering against the surrounding city, and highlights both functional and pedestrian areas within the plant.
According to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, the hour and a half tour “starts with an overview of the wastewater treatment process—an essential part of protecting public health and NYC’s waterways. After, we treat guests to unobstructed views of the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens skylines from the observation deck, a glass-enclosed walkway built atop our state-of-the art digester eggs.”Continue reading →
Hey, Greenpoint! I know you’re always looking for that history fix, and North Brooklyn has you covered. There are several wonderful history events coming up this weekend and in the next few weeks! But, at any time, our lovely little ‘nabe is jam-packed with fabulous institutions where you can dive into an exploration of what has shaped our city, from sugar, to garbage, to oysters! The array is so gloriously wide, it helps remind us that everything is history, and there’s a history of everything!
Perhaps the best place to learn about “the history of everything” in New York City, is our very own City Reliquary (370 Metropolitan Avenue). The museum’s collection of artifacts and ephemera includes everything from vintage seltzer bottles to Dodgers fan merchandise and memorabilia from the 1939 World’s Fair. The museum also features community collections and rotating exhibits. The current exhibit, NYC Trash!: Past, Present and Future, is on view until April 29, 2018. The Reliquary will host a screening of the film Canners THIS SATURDAY 1/27 @ 7pm.
While the North Brooklyn Boat Club inspects what lurks beneath the waters of Newtown Creek every Halloween, we thought we’d take a deep dive (theoretically) into what looms above them: The Digester Eggs, those award winning industrial landmarks on the Brooklyn-Queens Border. The Digester Eggs are primarily concerned with what happens after New Yorkers finish their own digesting. Hallmarks of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest of 14 wastewater treatment plants in New York City, the Digester Eggs handle 1.4 million gallons of “sludge” and food-waste daily from across Brooklyn and much of Manhattan.
But what’s sludge, you ask? According the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, sludge refers to organic solids. The Department’s website explains, “Inside the digesters – given heat, lack of oxygen and time, bacteria break down the sludge into more stable materials. This natural process converts much of the sludge into water, carbon dioxide and methane gas, leaving what is called ‘digested sludge.’ This material, in turn, is dewatered to form a cake, which, after additional processing, can be used as fertilizer.” And in an interview with City and State New York, Pam Elardo, the deputy commissioner for the Bureau of Wastewater Treatment, adds that since “methane gas is a very important energy resource,” NYC has teamed up with National Grid “to put that gas directly into their regional pipeline, which then will be going to people’s homes so they can cook their dinner, and then use their toilets, and then put the waste in our system. Then we’ll create more gas from that and then it’s a full circle.”
The whole process is a based on organic biology. Elardo explains, “what we do is we use biology. We set up conditions to bring a biological community to these treatment plants that actually consume the organic matter. If you think about it this way, if a bear poops in the woods, their poop will eventually become soil because all this bacteria that lives in the environment will degrade that waste. So we’re taking something that takes weeks in the natural environment, and make it happen within a few hours within the treatment plant.”
If this process of decomposition and regeneration seems elegant, than the Department has done its job well. NYC DEP touts the Digester Eggs as an “elegant combination of engineering and art,” elaborating that “Lighting designer Hervé Descottes used a layer of blue light to identify and unify the water treatment plant and to set it apart from the surrounding city. He also used other lights as well. Bright white lights define the plant’s various functional areas, such as the loading docks, which blaze in contrast to the blue monochromatic field. Shimmering lines, some of them yellow, are used to demarcate pedestrian walkways and to contrast with the blue light.”
And it turns out that you can help the city’s most elegant wastewater treatment plant stay classy by being conscientious about what you flush. Elardo says, “The problem we have is people do flush a lot of things that shouldn’t be in the toilet. Even if it says “flushable” on the box, if it’s not toilet paper, it should not be flushed. So what happens is all those baby wipes, and facial wipes, and Clorox bleach wipes and whatever makeup stuff that people flush – tampons, condoms, everything – it comes to the plant. We have to screen out that debris before we put it into the treatment plant. We do our best to screen it out, and we spend over $7 million a year hauling off just stuff that gets stuck in our screen. Even with the screens, a lot of (those) rags, and baby wipes, and facial stuff gets through the screens and ends up clogging pipes.”
If you’d like to get a closer look at those pipes, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Center hosts tours three times a year, in February, April and October. The Visitor Center at 329 Greenpoint Avenue is open by appointment only. To visit, call 718-595-5140.
WEDNESDAY 2/12 ♫ Karlie Bruce / Tom Brosseau / Christy & Emily @ The Paper Box (17 Meadow St, Bushwick) 8pm, $8 adv/ $10 dos, More Info ☺ Stand Up Comedy,The Cause B Show VII @ Greenpoint Heights (278 Nassau Aveune) 8:30 pm, FREE, free beer with donation, This night of stand-up created by comic Kerryn Feehand and local community organizer Victoria Varney gets comedians together to give a voice to underrepresented causes – this one being the Northside Townhall. RSVP ♫ Q-Tip / Natasha Diggs @ Output (74 Wythe Ave) 10 pm, $15 adv/ Buy Tix
THURSDAY 2/13 ♥ Valentine’s Fete @ People of 2morrow (65 Franklin Street) 6 pm, FREE, Say I love you to yourself at this social gathering/artisan meet up, with floral arrangements by Fox and Fodder, nails by Joe Shep and 25% off Malaya Organics Bath and Body Products ♦ Art Opening: Recover Projects Launch with Tristan Fitch @ Rekover Projects (77 Franklin Street) 7 pm, FREE, See “Before Intersections,” a collection of 50 new paintings with more than 150 geometric shapes assembled on wood by Tristan Fitch, MORE INFO ☺ Comedy Night with Seth Olenick and Friends @ WORD (126 Franklin St) 7-8pm, FREE, Join Seth Olenick / Jeaneane Garolfalo / Dave Hill for a night in honor of Olenick’s newly published collection, Funny Business, RSVP ♫ Exploding in Sound & Ipsum Present: Grass is Green / Slonk Donkerson / Heeney / Please / Washer @ Shea Stadium (20 Meadow St, Bushwick) 8pm, $8, RSVP Continue reading →
You might not think about the sewers or quite frankly POOP when you think of Valentine’s Day – but if you LOVE NYC then you have to love all of NYC, which means loving the amazing system that takes care of our water waste. Consider a tour of the digester in Greenpoint this Friday! I am taking Gina there on a girls date – see you there!