Greenpoint going down the drain
by Emily Gallagher
Oct 10, 2018 | 290 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The morning after Hurricane Sandy, I remember walking down Frankln and West streets to observe the damage. The flooding was remarkable.

It was also around this time that I really started to fully realize two things: our sewage problem and our waterfront vulnerability.

Often in Greenpoint after the rain there is a faint smell of feces in the air, in part because wastewater from the street, as well as from our homes and industries, all share the same pipe.

When there is a large flow of stormwater runoff, it overwhelms the combined system and pushes the sludge into the waterway, or if there is no waterway outflow, then it burps back up into the street.

There is an outfall pipe into Newtown Creek in part to keep the system from becoming completely overwhelmed.

We frequently see this when our sewers cannot manage the amount of water runoff and enormous lakes of dirty water pool at our curbs and street corners.

This system was designed at a time when both the advent of flush toilets and the expedience of industry was picking up.

One thing that has made me concerned of late is the double-whammy we are headed towards.

On Monday, major news outlets announced that we will be bearing the real brunt of climate change in the next 10 to 20 years, which means more rain and more flooding in our neighborhood.

Another article on Curbed pronounced that New York City is doing a fairly bad job of mitigating climate change impacts (called resiliency planning), in part because our transportation system is such a mess.

Curbed reports that New York City is only behind Toyko in terms of failure to improve our greenhouse gas emissions.

Between all the folks commuting via car, all the new cars for hire, and the impetus to use them because of the failure of the MTA, our city is actually at about the national average for greenhouse emissions (28.5 percent) instead of lower.

Additionally, we are going to be adding thousands of more people to our coastline imminently. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that's a lot of extra toilets flushing into our combined sewer systems that already can't handle what we are giving them.

Unless we are ready to really commit to change, and quickly, Greenpointers better start getting some sturdy rain boots. Flooding poop water slowly engulfing the attractive outskirts of our community seems most definitely in our immediate future.

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