New York's Plan to Avoid Overflowing Rivers of Poo

Ah, aquatic architecture. It is truly a glamorous art form, allowing architects to build massive hotels made entirely out of ice or floating cities complete with their own tidal power generators and vertical farms. With aquatic architecture, it’s easy to imagine wild, over-the-top structures that would look more at home in sci-fi movies. Because humans naturally love water, it’s easy to make fountains, aquariums, and swimming pools objects of beauty.

New York City Sewer

Image: WNYC

As stunning as some pieces of aquatic architecture might be, it can’t all be breathtaking. Sometimes, you’ve just got to design the boring, ugly aspects of aquatic infrastructure just to keep society operational. Let’s take the New York sewer system, for example. The sewer system isn’t exactly a lovely feature of the city, but that doesn’t make it any less important. People are certainly grateful for the service it provides, even though most would rather not think about it.

Alligator from the Sewers

Image: Mark Williams International

Though, during particularly heavy rain, it can become hard not to think about the sewers, as the deluge of water can create a rather unfortunate and malodorous overflow. So, sometimes, it becomes necessary to do some rather unglamorous aquatic architecture design and figure out how to siphon millions of gallons of poo away from the Big Apple.

The green organizations New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Environmental Protection are working to do just that, designing a whole mess of new features that will keep New York’s waste where it belongs

Sewage in the Hudson

Image: Sea and Sky NY

When it comes to fixing the sewage issues of a place as big as New York, you can’t just add a few more pipes, cork a few holes, and cross your fingers. You have to attack the problem from every angle imaginable, designing a bunch of structures that can work together to keep the sewers from flooding. Plants with dense roots, special porous material for public roads and parking areas, and similar considerations should all collaborate to halt the rising tide of poo.

The city has is planning to commit a hefty $1.5 billion to the cause, though it’s getting about $900 million worth of help from private investors.

NYC Sewer Overflowing

Image: Grist

If these sewer-friendly systems succeed, then the odds of New York experience a backed-up sewer should drop dramatically, and New Yorkers won’t have to worry about such crappy weather.


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