Just in time for Valentine’s Day: sewage plant tours
Brooklyn, New York’s Newtown Creek sewage plant will be the center of romance this Valentine’s Day. Plant superintendent Jim Pynn will take loving couples and others on morning or afternoon tours of the facility this coming Tuesday, Feb. 14.
“New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection is bringing two things together,” Pynn told Govpro.com. “We are going to give tour attendees a lot of information on our infrastructure, and we will give them an opportunity to express their love for each other—pretty neat, huh?”
The sewage plant tour offers some unique architecture and vistas. One impressive part of the plant is its eight futuristic, stainless steel-clad digester eggs. Processing as much as 1.5 million gallons of sludge every day, and working like a digestion system, the eggs break down the aromatic waste into non-toxic sludge and gas. The eggs are visible from vantage points in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan and serve as a landmark for travelers on several of NYC’s highways and bridges.
“We end the tour on top of the digester eggs with not only a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline, but the entire 53-acre Newtown plant,” Pynn said.
“The plant is a pretty neat secret, and I think it’s a great conversation starter,” Pynn explained. “Just imagine going home and saying, ‘Where did he take me on Valentine’s Day? I went to see the digester eggs in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.’”
Located in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint community, Newtown Creek is the largest of New York City’s 14 wastewater treatment plants. Plant expansion and redesign have also included development of the quarter-mile Newtown Creek Waterfront Nature Walk. A plant rebuilding process started in 1998, said Pynn, with completion of the rebuild expected to take another two or three years.
Pynn says governments everywhere could benefit by showing residents some of the infrastructure and processes that are essential to communities. “Water delivery and sewage cleaning services are a secret to most folks, so we found it beneficial to tell tour attendees exactly what we do. I think it makes it easier for them to appreciate the bills that they get for their water and sewer use, and understanding what goes into it.”
Pynn’s plant hosts public tours every month, with 50 or 60 in attendance, and it is time well spent, says Pynn. “Opening this infrastructure up for public view and having someone explain what goes on, it really has benefited in the acceptance by the public of these types of systems as necessary facilities for living in an urban environment.”
Just for Valentine’s Day, Pynn says tour attendees at the sewage facility will get a candy treat appropriate for the day. “Couples and singles and children and old folks — whoever shows up, is welcome to a Hershey kiss,” he said.
The morning Valentine’s Day tour at the plant is booked solid, with no space left, Pynn told Govpro.com. The afternoon tour, at 1 p.m., still has space available. Tour-goers should meet at the plant’s Visitor Center (located at 329 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.) at 1 p.m., and should wear closed-toe shoes.