NYC's Apoopalypto Stinks...

...But Raw Sewage Is Flush With Renewable Power
Come 2013, poop could be lighting up New York City. (Photo: wwarby/flickr)
Jul 26, 2011· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

Officials in New York are continuing to adjust estimates as to when Big Apple-ites can return to city waterways after a fire at a waste treatment facility flushed 200 million of gallons of raw poop into the Hudson, Harlem and East Rivers.

The spill at Harlem’s North River wastewater treatment facility was plugged on Friday and the city’s drinking water wasn’t affected.

The young, the old, and anybody who’d have no reservations about kayaking, waterskiing, or synchronize swimming in water that’s no cleaner than the steamy, sloppy mess found at the bottom of a Phish concert Porta-Potty have been advised to stay onshore.

The spill, especially during last week’s suffocating heatwave, was a particularly putrid nuisance.

But sewage as an entity doesn’t necessarily deserve its dirty rap.

"Every time there is more than half an inch of rain, there is sewage sent into the Hudson River,” said Phillip Musegrass, Hudson River Program Director for Riverkeeper, to

Larry Levine, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the typical NYC rainfall could cause as much as “30 billion gallons” of sewage to discharge into city waterways.

In February, city officials began to look seriously at its 1.3 billion gallons of daily sewage as an untapped, renewable energy source.

According to The New York Times:

Heating fuel can be extracted from sludge and butanol, an alternative fuel to gasoline, from the algae generated by wastewater. Sewage treatment plants could sell methane gas to provide power to homes.

The plan’s advantages aren’t solely environmental. The Department of Environmental Protection would be earning money to offset the cost of dealing with wastewater, which currently costs $400 million per year.

The plan won’t be a "dung deal" until 2013, when the city is expected to finalize contracts with the private companies that will actually convert the waste into energy.