The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for January 10th, 2012

pest gulfs

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too long ago, I was crossing an intersection in Long Island City, one which is overtly familiar, and I noticed something which has eluded my interests in the past. At Hunters Point Avenue (which is officially 47th avenue in this decadent age) and 27th street, the sewers bear an interesting screed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was recently a sizable road repair in this spot, perhaps in 2008 or 09, one which cut away the street surface. Observation revealed that the waters of Dutch Kills flow beneath a sort of concrete deck, which appears to be the foundations of the surface street, a structure which sits upon wooden piles.

It must have been around the time of this project that these grates showed up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Dump no waste, drains to waterways” is the motto embossed on the curb surface. What this means, to me at least, is that snowmelt and rain goes directly (and untreated) into the nearest open water- which would be the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabled Newtown Creek.

Just in case you think that this is not a big deal, this is an enormously well travelled intersection with a UPS depot on the opposite corner and one which provides a “short cut” for trucks employed by the Fresh Direct facility on Borden Avenue (amongst others, of course). That’s two very large fleets of trucks.

Trucks are notoriously “drippy” and their exhaust paints the pavement with diesel petroleum residue, all of which flows into the water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another drop in the bucket, you might say, as far the Newtown Creek Watershed goes.

Even so, it’s odd that untreated wastewater is allowed to flow directly into this waterway, already a largely anaerobic place where no fish of similar size might survive long.

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