Brooklyn Sewage Bike Tour

Saturday November 15
East New York

Learn about Brooklyn’s environmental challenges and successes on NYC H20’s leisurely and informative bike ride along Jamaica Bay.

Climate change, rising sea levels and intense storms like Hurricane Sandy have persuaded city planners of the value of marshland in storm water management.  A century ago the neighborhoods Sandy flooded were wetlands. 

All 14 of NYC’s sewage plants are built in this vulnerable floodplain along the water’s edge. Their effluent flows into our bay’s and rivers, so maintaining high quality treatment is vital to protect beach goers as well as wildlife.

Government agencies like DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers have partnered with local NGO’s like Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers and NRDC to design a plan to restore Jamaica Bay’s ecosystem. Initiatives include restoring wetlands, mitigating combined sewer overflows (CSO) with green and grey infrastructure and upgrading sewage plants.

The tour will be led by BK ecology enthusiasts Adam Schwartz and Matt Malina.
Tickets here

Location of the 14 sewage plants in NYC NYCDEP
‘Sewershed’ NYC DEP website
26th Ward Sewage Plant (Source: NYC DEP Storm Resiliency Report)
26th Ward sewage plant 1924 (NYC GIS)
Coney Island by Weegee 1941
26th Ward sewage plant. Picture taken 1940. (Municipal archives, image # dpw_01830)
Coney Island plant began operation in 1886 and was located behind Luna Park.
Schematic of 1897 Coney Island sewage purification plant The Coney Island was the first municipal sewage plant in the United States. Source: Sewage Disposal in the United States by George W. Rafter and Moses Nelson Baker 1900 on Google Books
Coney Island sewage plant 1924 (NYC GIS)
Coney Island Sewage Plant (Resiliency report)
Coney Island sewage plant. Picture taken in 1940. (Municipal archives, image # dpw_00713)
Ground water getting polluted by sewage 1939 Wiki
Harper’s Magazine 1883
Brooklyn waterfront 1924 (current sight of Brooklyn Bridge) Park
Path of float in the East River 25 Dec 1910 NY Times (article on the left)

The Ghost Map

“Sanitary sewage” refers to what comes out of buildings. “Storm water” refers to rain and melting snow. In many older parts of NYC these are combined, hence the term ‘combined sewers.’
Storm sewers (separate from sanitary) were first put in starting in 1892. http://www.sewerhistory.org/articles/constr/1892_as402/article.pdf
1875 BK Sewage map – BHS
Paris storm sewer 1868, Charles Marville Metropolitan Museum of Art
1902 Brooklyn Sewer Map – BHS
Floating pool, Hudson River at 96th Street: 1938, Source: NYC Park Dept

Map of Combined Sewers vs. Separated

Sewage enthusiasts Matt Malina and Adam Schwartz will lead a tour of the sewage plants of Southern Brooklyn. Up until the 1880’s, Brooklyn’s sewage was piped into the bay and ocean untreated. During Brooklyn’s fast paced growth after the Civil War, scientific advances led to a clearer understanding of the adverse health effects of untreated sewage. As Coney Island was becoming a popular beach destination, the first sewage ‘purification’ plant was built there in 1885 to protect bathers. Other plants followed in the 20th century, leading to current system of 14 Water Pollution Control Plants we have today.
On the tour we will;
– Bike to 3 sewage plants, 1 storm water retention facility and 1 CSO outflow point
– Explain the sewage treatment process and what a Combined Sewer Overflow, CSO is
– Explain the ad hoc way in which the sewage system initially developed

Route Maps; Train to sewage plant,  26th Ward to Coney IslandConey Island to Owls Head
Tour notes
 (with references and quotes from articles) 

Learn about Brooklyn’s environmental challenges and successes on NYC H20’s leisurely and informative bike ride along Jamaica Bay.

Climate change, rising sea levels and intense storms like Hurricane Sandy have persuaded city planners of the value of marshland in storm water management.  A century ago the neighborhoods Sandy flooded were wetlands. 

All 14 of NYC’s sewage plants are built in this vulnerable floodplain along the water’s edge. Their effluent flows into our bay’s and rivers, so maintaining high quality treatment is vital to protect beach goers as well as wildlife.

Government agencies like DEP and the Army Core of Engineers have partnered with local NGO’s like Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers and NRDC to design a plan to restore Jamaica Bay’s ecosystem. Initiatives include restoring wetlands, mitigating combined sewer overflows (CSO) with green and grey infrastructure and upgrading sewage plants.
On this ride we will;
–   Bike along the Jamaica Bay greenway, visit restored wetlands and demonstrate how the multifaceted Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan is being put into action   
–   Visit a sewage plant and a storm water retention facility learning about CSO’s and the ad hoc way in which the sewage system initially developed as well as the environmental and urban planning history of this area
–   Explore one of NYC’s ‘Forever Wild’ areas
–   See lesser known neighborhoods of Brooklyn, including Spring Creek, Bergen  Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach and Coney Island, all fronting Jamaica Bay
The tour will be led by Bk ecology enthusiasts Adam Schwartz and Matt Malina.
Tour notes (with references and quotes from articles)

environmental_history_2.0_as_of_5-1.pdf
Download File
fisheries_journal_piece.pdf
Download File

net_men_and_anglers.pdf
Download File
history_of_canarsie_beach.pdf
Download File
railroads_to_jamaica_bay.pdf
Download File

more_canasie_beach_history.pdf
Download File

waste_mangement_infrastructure_of_jamaica_bay_new_york_long_island_history_journal__1_.pdf
Download File

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