The Gowanus catches a lot of shit for being full of uh…pollution, but just because it hasn’t killed a dolphin lately doesn’t mean that the Newtown Creek is Brita filter clean. And just like the Gowanus Canal, not only does the Newtown Creek contain decades of heavy industrial pollution, it also catches all of the sewage runoff whenever the nearby wastewater treatment plant overflows. And now, if you don’t want to directly contribute to said runoff, the Newtown Creek Alliance will text you when your toilet water will end up in the creek instead of being treated.
What you decide to do with your toilet at that point is completely up to you, but obviously we wouldn’t sign up for this if you’re the type to be paralyzed with guilt. The Alliance didn’t actually start this program of theirs just to guilt people, they’re actually trying to study how and when the nearby sewers overflow. To that end, they installed a bunch of weather stations all over the Newtown Watershed, which covers a huge swath of North Broolyn. Those stations will let them know when storm water and sewage water are getting released into Newtown, which is really bad news for the creek’s ecosystem. And for anyone kayaking there for some reason.
Before you flush, you can check the Alliance’s website, where they’ve got a “Safe to Flush” meter. Or if you’re not OCD enough to do check a website every time you go to the bathroom, they’ll be tweeting the flushing safety information on at @newtowncreek, or you can text 646-576-7448 for the info. According the Alliance, the overflow usually happens when there’s rainfall that’s added to the usual rush of people flushing their toilets. And since it’s not like we can stop it from raining, the next best thing people can do is not flush their toilet immediately after using it. We guess.