Word of the day: Pollution
late Middle English: from Latin pollutio(n-), from the verb polluere
Definition: the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects
Our destination today was the Newtown Creek. Jiamei taught us that due to industrialization and oil spilages created by big corporations, what was once fresh waterways become toxic and polluted. With such massive ammounts of pollutants, Newtown Creek is known as one of the most polluted waters in the United States. In addition to the pollutants, fresh waterways in New York are no longer fresh even with the water treatment plants because the sewage water that comes from houses into treatment plants are flushed out into the rivers when it rains “too much”. This means that when there is more than merely 1/10th of an inch of rain per hour, the sewage water drains into the rivers, adding to the pollutants that make the waters dirty and toxic. Although places that are heavily polluted like Newtown Creek has been designated as Superfunds, which means that EPA has designated it as an extreme priority for mitigation, the combined sewage system that lines the city is continually working against the clean up efforts. With this in mind, we mapped our ride to Newtowk Creek and headed out.
Newtown Creek Ride
Fourth ride of the season! As usual we made sure everyone had water and lunch, and checked our ABC’s for airs in our tires, breaks, and cables. A~nd we were off! We walked down 96th street to the East River Walkway, but rather than going North like in our previous rides, we rode South toward the Dog Park near 62nd St. Passing the Dog Park, we made up 60th st. and prepared ourselves for the Queensboro Bridge. For some reason, many of us found going over the Queensboro Bridge much easier than last Thursday and almost everyone made it without stopping! After getting into Queens, we stopped for a little bit at the Queensbridge Park to re-hydrate ourselves. During our break, Cappu suggested that we collect leave samples for identification, and Omar and Josue were climbing trees to get a good sample. The leaves were too high up, so they resorted to grabbing some from a shorter tree.
From Queensbridge Park, we headed South towards Newtown Creek. We stopped to find a geocache at the Gordon Triangle, and while we were walking, we heard a definite “pppppssssshshhhhhhhh” sound that indicated leaking air. Daniela’s bike had a flat tire, which she fixed with the help of Georgia. Without much luck with the geocache, the crew headed further South until we hit 49th Ave. On 49th, we made a left turn and made our way up the Pulaski Bridge. At the top, we stopped to take a look at the color of the water and headed further down until we were at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk. Here we stopped for lunch under some nice shade.
Lunch was nice, because we could enjoy the breeze in the shade. But it was hard not to see that the water was a gross color. Alberto was brave and pulled up some black mayonnaise from the bottom of the water for us to see. This black mayonnaise, obviously, is not actually mayonnaise that contains black food coloring. Rather is sediment that has gathered industrial waste and New York discharge. It had a stench that correlates with the 15 feet thick layer of petroleum and waste products that lines the bottom of the creek.
It was time to head back to the Beacon after seeing how polluation can create such devastation. Before we headed out, however, we stopped by a round table that showed us what the fresh waterways used to be like in New York City before industrialization. Around this table, Cappy took a photo of all of us in a panorama, with Carmen in every scene. We then rode back over the Pulaski Bridge and over the Queensboro Bridge. We went up East River until we rode the streets from 78th St. and 1st Ave. to 96th and 3rd Ave.
Overall, this was a great ride! Everyone did their best on the hills and bridges, and the weather was nice. Looking forward to the next ride!
Georgia Bancheri, Cappy Collins, Jiamei Huang, Judy Lee, Alberto Rivera
Miles biked: 16.4 miles
Program time (hours): 6 hours
Ride time (hours): 2 hours 39 minutes
Calories burned*: 362
Water Quality Monitoring Results
pH : 7.5
Nitrate : Negative