In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and emphasizing the importance of being prepared for a professional world, LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC) welcomed Angie Cruz on October 31st in the E-building’s Poolside Café. Ms. Cruz, who previously visited the campus in 2017, is an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, writer of short stories and […]
As New York continues to flourish in our economic status our sewer “clogged arteries” continue to cause financial issues.
On Tuesday April 16th, in room E-500, a representative from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Mikelle Adgate presented on her agency’s campaign to raise public awareness on how to dispose of hazardous household waste safely in order to decrease our fatberg epidemic. Fatbergs are a combination of fats, oils, grease, wipes, floss, etc. that become congealed.
Ms. Adgate first explained how our water system works to give us clean water. They send it to waste water treatment plants where it gets cleaned and discharged back to New York. Our water comes from a water shed that covers 2,000 square miles in upstate New York.
The water we use for drinking, showering, and doing the dishes goes down to the sewer system as sanitary waste. From there it travels 7,500 miles through sewers to our water waste treatment plants. There, plants treat 1.3 billion gallons of waste water per day.
The Department of Environmental Protection is also in charge of quality of life pollution such as air, noise, and hazardous waste. In their efforts they have to remove pollutants and pathogens from dirty water and discharge clean water back into the New York Harbor, Today the Harbor water quality is better than it has been in 140 years of testing.
Ms. Adgate explained how even though the agency invests billions of dollars to make sure the infrastructure is working correctly; the behaviors and habits of everyday New Yorkers and tourists; flushing wipes, feminine products, trash, and oil have an impact.
The sewer system is designed to take water and sanitary waste. But as people begin to dispose grease, wipes, and feminine products, we create these clogs known as fatbergs. Ms. Adgate also explained the proper way to dispose of grease amongst other products. She said it should go into a container and be thrown away. “Flushable wipes” have caused a major problem in the sewer system. The wipes combine with grease and create fatbergs. In London, they removed a fatberg that weighed thirteen tons.
It costs $19 million dollars per year to deal with this on-going issue. That includes the cost to transport to a landfill, to clear out and degrease sewers, and to fix broken equipment.
To help address this issue the Department of Environment Protection came up with a media campaign for behavioral change. They were able to secure a $1.5 million-dollar budget for the campaign. They decided on the slogan “Trash it. Don’t flush it” and to focus on three specific images to remind people what can and cannot be flushed.
The Department of Environmental Protection also had a commercial and paid digital advertising. They advertised their campaign on Google for six weeks, on Univision, and Pandora. Ms. Adgate explains how the agency wanted to be seen and heard as much as possible. They ran the advertisement on bus shelters, buses, subways and a two-station domination; where they took over the entire station with their advertisements. They picked up 25 press articles in the first four weeks, which were free of charge.
They plan on educating the public more and cultivating partnerships to have a unified front. They are looking at legislation and they want to require the industry to stop labelling their products flushable. They have evidence that these products are not flushable, and they do not break down in the sewer system.
With the combined efforts of the Department of Environmental Protection’s infrastructure operations, New Yorkers are changing their everyday behavior. The DEP’s legislative and regulatory approach has had a positive day-to-day impact.