Happy Thanksgiving, Greenpoint! Wondering what was happening around town as you were gearing up for the holiday? Read on to find out!
Good thing you’re reading this after the meal, since first up is a story about overflowing sewage. Last Wednesday, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection held a public meeting regarding the City’s efforts to curb sewage overflow into places like Flushing Bay, the Bronx River, the Harlem River and our very own Newtown Creek. Over 100 people turned out to make their voices heard.
Speaking of riding in style, the first prototype of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or BQX, was unveiled on Monday. Also known as the Gentrification Express, the proposed streetcar would run along the waterfront from Astoria to Sunset Park.
Greenpointers have been watching the changing East River Waterfront. A community development meeting on Wednesday allowed residents to hear from developers, and voice their concerns about on-going construction projects in North Brooklyn. While the luxury towers seem to leave a lot of Greenpointers out in the cold, this week The Brooklyn Eagle toured Level BK, in Williamsburg, offering a look inside.
Transmitter Park is one of the great gems of the Greenpoint waterfront, but the oasis has turned terrifying for pet owners. A shaggy, unleashed, black dog has brutally attacked several other dogs in the park without cause or warning. Continue reading →
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.
The North Brooklyn Boat Club is hosting their spooky haunted nighttime paddle again this year! This Saturday, October 28 from 7:30-11pm, the horror will be revealed!
Here are the deets:
NBBC’s dark and silent (ACA-certified) guides will lead terrifying twenty-minute tours of the starkly beautiful postindustrial waters of Newtown Creek. Over the dark surface of this time-haunted stream, strange chants echo, and those who dwell here have changed with the passing of forgotten years. As the boat passes beneath the rusted relics of bygone industry, there emerge the twisted devotees of ancient powers, older than humanity, uncaring, and strange.
That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.
Each $30 canoe ride ticket includes a drink ticket to be used after your trip. You’ll need it. For those too fearful to ply the waters, we’ll have a party on land with a bonfire, drinks, and food.
Didn’t Catch the match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor? No worries, you can have a knockout of your own this weekend! Newtown Creek Allianceis looking for volunteers to help with itsKnotweed Knockout at Penny Bridge.
A continuation of our cleanup work at the Penny Bridge site, we are looking for volunteers to help us with weeding and path-making. The vicious Japanese Knotweed, along with other weeds are overtaking portions of the site and we will focus heavily on removing the plant from certain areas for path-making and planting of native pollinator species. Gloves, shovels, trash bags and all other needed materials will be provided.
Saturday, September 9th Sunday, September 10th 11am to 3pm Location: Where Meeker Avenue dead ends at Newtown Creek (Greenpoint)
This Saturday (June 3rd), you can tour the beautiful rooftop at Kingsland Wildflowers (520 Kingsland Ave), learn about the future of Newtown Creek at a community visioning workshop, and take a look back to its industrial roots with local historian Mitch Waxman. These events are all free and open to the public.
Schedule of Events:
1-4pm Community Visioning with Riverkeeper and NCA, RSVP
5-7pm Lecture and Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof Tour with Mitch Waxman, NCA Historian, RSVP
Join Riverkeeper and the Newtown Creek Alliance in creating a cohesive community vision for Newtown Creek. With a Superfund cleanup and long-term plan to control sewage overflows on the horizon, now is an opportune time to engage stakeholders in imagining and designing a future Newtown Creek that provides greater opportunities for restoration, remediation, recreation, and resilience. RSVP