I was staggering across the Pulaski Bridge across the noxious and noisome Newtown Creek one recent afternoon, near-crazed from the abominable 85-degree heat and pounding sun, when I was privileged to recored a passing vessel making its way east.
It was the Rockaway, one of three relatively recently commissioned (2014) NYC Department of Environmental Protection sludge transport vessels (joining the Hunts Point and the Port Richmond, and the older vessels, the North River, the Newtown Creek and the Red Hook). Sludge transport vessels carry organic waste to wastewater treatment plants where the waste is separated from the water, which is then cleaned further and recycled into our water system (to put things simply). Greenpoint, of course, has one of the most recognizable wastewater treatment plants in the world, composed in part by eight Digester Eggs (some refer to them as the Shit Tits).
The commissioning of the three new vessels allowed the DEP to tear down a concrete-clad 800,000 gallon sludge storage tank on the Greenpoint waterfront that had been a landmark of sorts; I always compared it to the Felt Forum. The land it occupied will now go toward “affordable” housing which in Brooklyn means $2,500 for a one-bedroom.
The new vessels were assembled in Louisiana and each can carry a million gallons of sludge. The Digester Eggs make up only one of NYC’s 14 wastewater treatment plants. Periodically the Eggs allow tourists in for tours, and a nature walk has been recently built around the Creek in its vicinity. Hardy Nature is in evidence despite the Creek’s noxious existence. Snapping turtles can be found in its depths.