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New Brooklyn Lab Keeps Watch Over City's Wastewater

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TWC News: New Brooklyn Lab Keeps Watch Over City's Wastewater
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The Department of Environmental Protection opened a new microbiology lab at a Brooklyn water treatment plant today, to help monitor and enhance the cleansing of wastewater and local waterways. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

New Yorkers produce 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater every day, and now a new microbiology lab in the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn can make sure the city's water supply remains properly clean.

The $2.3 million microbiology lab allows staffers from the city's Department of Environmental Protection to search for microorganisms in samples taken from sludge from the city's 14 water treatment plants and waterways.

"We've been trying to take more and more samples to see how we're are doing in ambient waterways and treatment at our facilities, and this lab will help us to do that," said Vincent Sapienza, the DEP deputy commissioner of wastewater treatment.

The DEP's goal is to remove and disinfect pollutants from wastewater, so there is as little impact as possible when the cleansed water is discharged into the waterways around the city.

"It will give us a much better ability to get a sense across all of our plants how we are doing," said DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway.

The centralized lab has replaced labs in each of the 14 plants.

"We'll do samples at all of our wastewater treatment plants, because you have to know how you are doing in each facility, but they will get analyzed here. That will enable us to do more testing," said Holloway.

Researchers make sure the filtering process kills bacteria and organic matter that deplete water of oxygen, but keeps beneficial organisms.

"There's also good microorganisms that help to break down the sewage, and we want to cultivate those," said Vincent Sapienza, the DEP deputy commissioner of wastewater treatment. "So we can check those organisms here at the lab, to make sure we have the proper populations to do that work efficiently."

The lab is part of a $5 billion upgrade at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant that is expected to be completed by 2014.

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