While far from perfect in its wastewater systems due to old combined sewer infrastructure, New York has implemented many treatment solutions that could be effective in other cities in the world.
Scientific America reports on New York’s unique approach to recyclable wastewater treatment facilities:
In addition to the standardized multi-stage wastewater treatment process, all NYC wastewater treatment includes an advanced process called anaerobic digestion (AD).
This process allows anaerobic bacteria to “eat away” the organics in sludge, generating methane biogas as they do so. This methane—a notorious greenhouse gas that causes 25 percent of man-made global warming can be captured in vessels called digesters, preventing it from entering the atmosphere.
The captured methane can then be used as a source of energy in the form of heat, renewable natural gas, or even vehicle biofuel.
New York also has its fair share of problems when extreme weather hit its sewers. The old Combined Sewers (CS) that stream both stormwater and wastewater have a high tendency to flood and release their waste into the New York Harbor and violate EPA clean water regulations regularly.
But solutions to this problem are also being employed in the form of combined sewer overflow retention facilities. The city is also investing in more green infrastructure to reduce the amount of stormwater entering the CS in the first place.
While New York may not be the perfect example for wastewater asset management worldwide, the city does provide a great initial schema for exploring ways to use new technology to help solve wastewater issues that occur due to aging infrastructure.
Many cities in the developing world could take away useful ideas and implementation plans using New York as an example.
PHOTO CREDIT: Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant by Netherzone – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85214434. The photo has been cropped to fit the website’s needs.