January 27, 2018
by Noah Siegel
Have you ever wondered what happens to the water you use after washing the dishes, taking a shower, or flushing the toilet? GreenHomeNYC visited the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to learn how the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sustainably handles wastewater treatment. Our tour was led by LaToya Anderson, the Science and Environmental Protection Educator for the NYC DEP.
As the largest of NYC’s 14 wastewater treatment facilities, Newtown Creek handles an impressive 310 million gallons of wastewater every day, and up to 620 million on a rainy day. As we approached the site, the first thing we noticed were the glistening, futuristic digester “eggs”. Since 2010, these alien-esque digesters have become an iconic piece of the Brooklyn cityscape, especially when illuminated with bright blue LEDs in the evening.
Inside the digesters, a biological process called “anaerobic digestion” takes place. Bacteria breaks down “sludge”, the organic material removed from our sewage. For this process to take place, the digesters are kept at 98°F and are completely sealed to create an oxygen-free environment. In total, these digesters can hold 24 million gallons of sludge at any given time.