A Valentine’s Day To Remember (a post by Anna)

Nothing says love like sewage plants and government facility tours on Valentine’s Day.

Anne and I rolled into Greenpoint bright and early, and the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant was a madhouse. People on the waitlist and others who hadn’t even registered, all hoping to get a coveted spot on the Valentine’s Day tour. The staff, dressed in 50 shades of pink, handed out Hershey kisses and commemorative pins in the shape of a manhole covers.


After a riveting talk about the sanitation process and how wastewater physically makes it to the plant, we headed out and up the giant digester eggs. These bad boys double as the set for chase scenes in a bunch of big thriller movies.


Our quickly beloved tour guide was the Deputy Supervisor of the plant, and I’ve never met a man with more passion for wastewater treatment. He told us the plant cleans 1.5 million gallons of wastewater a day. He told us baby wipes were the single worst thing that has happened to the water system. He told us that they speed up the process during heavy rain. I asked if anyone had ever proposed here; he said no.


At night, the place turned purple. Lighting design is by Hervé Descottes, who also designed lighting for the High Line.


Thanks to treatment plants like this, NYC’s river water is the cleanest it’s ever been. So it should come as no surprise that they’re planning to install a floating public swimming pool in the East River in 2016. Now let’s all go drink some tap water!!

PS. If you want a real recap of our tour, Anne wrote about it on Quartz!



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