The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant's pungent stench and rancid waters have already turned it into a go-to spot for celebrating special events like Valentine's Day and Halloween. This holiday season, the Greepoint sewage plant is finding an even more special way to give back to the community: they're turning your "organic waste" into natural gas. Science!
According to a press release issued by the Department of Environmental Protection last week, the city has begun "delivering pre-processed organic food waste to the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant where it is added to wastewater sludge to increase the production of biogas." That biogas will soon be converted into renewable natural gas that National Grid will use to heat commercial and residential spaces.
The project, also helmed by the Sanitation Department, does the double duty of putting food refuse from schools, greenmarkets and the like to good use; the food will be delivered to the sewage plant's famed digester eggs. There, it will combine with the "wastewater sludge"— which is exactly what you think it is, by the way—and as the waste breaks down, methane gas is released that it will be converted to natural gas. The city expects the projects will produce enough energy to heat nearly 5,200 homes in the city, and will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90,000 metric tons—essentially having the same environmental effects as taking 19,000 cars off the road.
"Collecting and treating the more than one billion gallons of wastewater produced in New York City every day is essential to public health and the protection of the environment, but it also offers a significant opportunity to mine the resources in that waste stream for clean, reliable energy,” DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland. “At no cost to ratepayers, these projects will harness a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process to provide renewable natural gas to local residents while helping to clean the air we all breathe."
You can flip through the above gallery to see the sewage plant in action, but do note that although "organic slurry" sounds like a delicious new Jamba Juice drink, it is in fact mostly liquid poo.