Gowanus Canal

Brooklyn Tech Triangle

Newtown Creek

Today the Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Wastewater Treatment (BWT) is responsible for New York City’s water waste. The department reports that it currently has, “6000 miles of sewer pipes: 135,000 sewer catch basins: over 494 permitted outfalls for the discharge of combined sewer overflows CSOs and stormwater: 93 wastewater pumping stations” transporting the wastewater to the designated processing plant. This is an immense infrastructural system with the responsibility to clean up the water pollution caused by every New Yorker. Everyday, heavy metals and other toxic chemicals, such as cadmium and mercury, solvents and pesticides are regularly dumped into our water, legally and illegally, to be cleaned out by the processing plants. Further contamination is caused by decaying plumbing systems that release deposits of lead and copper...

...The Bureau of Wastewater Treatment processes 1.4 billion gallons of wastewater (influent) and releases processed wastewater (effluent) into the surrounding water bodies of New York City each day. Influent is processed through a hard system with a five stages process cleaning process. According to the DEP, 70 percent of the city sewers are combined systems, accepting raw sewage from houses and industries and combining it with collected stormwater and runoff. A great deal of this water will fall on impermeable surfaces and run into catch basins around the city streets.New York City received 43 to 50 inches of rain each year. Under modest circumstances, this water will flow into lateral sewers, eventually making its way to the water processing plant...

...If however, there is heavy rainfall, interceptor sewers complete with regulators will measure that the water is flowing above system capacity. The regulators will adjust overflow weirs, or barriers, that will divert overflow water directly to the surrounding waterways through Combined Sewage Overflow Outfalls. Approximately 30 billion gallons of sewage per year is dumped into the New York City waterbodies as a result of this system and its incapacity to process stormwater. In addition, 30 percent of New York City Sewers have separate waste rainfall runoff systems that drain stormwater directly into the nearest water body without any processing. This causes “eutrophication, a type of water pollution wherein algae bloom, then die, consuming oxygen and creating a “dead zone” where nothing can live,” (Columbia SEES project 2013).