Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gratitude for Waste Water Treatment - Annie


It was an amazing experience to witness first-hand where all the water in New York City goes once it gets flushed down the drain. The Go Team had a little field trip adventure recently to Greenpoint, Brooklyn to visit the largest waste water treatment facility in New York City… and it was truly a learning experience, which made us all appreciate the invisible infrastructure that we so often take for granted!


We enjoyed a great lecture, both from Connie Fitzgerald of the Department of Environmental Protection, and from the Waste Water Plant Supervisor, Jim Pynn. Here are a few interesting facts from our visit:


* New York City's water actually comes from a beautiful and clean source in the Catskill Mountains, about 100 miles north of the city, which is what makes our tap water taste so delicious. Amazingly, this water is delivered in an extremely eco-friendly manner: with GRAVITY! A hundred miles, with gravity... isn't that remarkable?!


* All of the water from our bathroom drains actually gets mixed with the run-off water from the streets of the city, and this grey water then gets channeled into giant filtration systems. But, extra debris in these filters requires extra energy -- so that means it's crucial not to flush anything other than toilet paper, and it's important not to litter in the streets. It's all connected.

* Some interesting objects have turned up in that filtration system in the past, representing the items that people have flushed… including heaps of counterfeit money!! No kidding.


* It's important to drink the tap water in New York City. Our water source in the Catskills is clean and pure, and drinking tap water in reusable containers cuts down on the use of plastic water bottles -- which take energy to create, and these bottles are a major nuisance when they become litter.


When we think about the fact that 2.5 billion people in the world don't have access to clean sanitation, it's especially remarkable to see the efficiency of our system at work here in New York. I have already written a little bit about sanitation on an international scale (see my blog entry "Potty Talk & Public Health" from Dec. 18th). On that note, a good friend of mine named Jamie, who is living in South Africa, just wrote to me about some of her recent bathroom adventures. Here is her description of a toilet that she experienced on a recent 13 hour bus ride in Mozambique, from Vilanculos to the seaside town of Maputo:


"After about four hours…I finally asked if there was a banho and was pointed to a 9-square foot area fenced in by 4-foot high 'walls' made of corn husks. This is where women where supposed to take care of biology… no holes, no toilets, just a patch of dirt with puddles… and piles… it really made me want to be a man for maybe the 2nd time ever."


Jamie mentioned that millions of South Africans don't have access to basic sanitation, which is defined as a ventilated improved pit latrine (or "VIP" latrine). This is particularly ironic, since South Africa also is the home to many Very Important People who own multiple marble toilets in their giant mansions. This discrepancy between have and have not may not be unique to South Africa, but it does demonstrate that anything is possible, anywhere in the world, with an investment of resources.


When we look at the clever design and efficiency and invisible magic of the waste water system in New York City, it causes me to think broadly and hopefully about creating such systems for the rest of the world. With that in mind, please consider donating to organizations such as:


The World Toilet Organization: http://www.worldtoilet.org/


Water Aid America: http://www.wateraidamerica.org/


Thank you very much to our hosts at the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant!! With creativity, cooperation, and some investment of resources, hopefully we can create make similar sanitation treatment systems a reality around the world.

-Annie



41 comments:

  1. 當身處逆境時,要能忍一時之氣,吃一時之苦,並及早確立自己的目標,總有一天,你會嘗到那甘美的果實。 ..................................................

    ReplyDelete
  2. 好喜歡你的部落格唷,剛下班,要去睡了!!!掰~~..................................................

    ReplyDelete
  3. 找一個懂妳的人也期許自己做一個人懂別人的人 ..................................................

    ReplyDelete
  4. 人必須心懷希望,才會活的快樂,日子才過得充實,有意義,有朝氣,有信心。........................................

    ReplyDelete
  5. 以簡單的行為愉悅他人的心靈,勝過千人低頭禱告........................................

    ReplyDelete
  6. 無一事而不學,無一時而不學,無一處而不學。........................................

    ReplyDelete
  7. 當身處逆境時,要能忍一時之氣,吃一時之苦,並及早確立自己的目標,總有一天,你會嘗到那甘美的果實。........................................

    ReplyDelete
  8. 人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德..................................................

    ReplyDelete
  9. 一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼..................................................

    ReplyDelete
  10. 向著星球長驅直進的人,反比踟躕在峽路上的人,更容易達到目的。............................................................

    ReplyDelete
  11. 當我微笑時,世界和我一起微笑;當我快樂時,世界和我一起活躍。..................................................

    ReplyDelete
  12. 唯有用熱情、用智慧去觀察事物,這事物才會把他的秘密,洩漏給我們......................................................................

    ReplyDelete