Cleaning the clean way

Alix Paultre, Editorial Director, PSD



Alix Paultre, Editorial Director, PSD

We face many challenges as a society and as an industry as we move into the 21st century, maintaining, inventing, recreating, and downright kluging our community infrastructures and their supporting core technologies as we go along. These changes can and do have far-reaching ramifications within society and the marketplace. Luckily we get it right more often than not, and I’d like to applaud one effort.

The effort applauded is the upgrading of the New York City water system. One of the reasons The Big Apple is touted for its water is because the city gets about 1,200 millions of gallons of water a day from the Catskill mountains to its north through almost 100 miles of huge pipes (they filmed the truck chase in the third Die Hard movie in on of the tunnels) buried under the countryside.

New York City recently completed the $1.5 billion Catskill/Delaware Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility, which is the world’s largest ultraviolet treatment plant. The plant can treat more than 2 billion gallons of drinking water a day, which is then consumed by New York City residents and a million residents in upstate counties.

The advantages here is that by adding a non-additive disinfection method to the already existing chlorine injection, the City avoided having to supplement using other chemicals and/or increase chlorine percentages and the inherent cost increases involved (while also sparing residents). Some may argue that the cost of supplying power to the UV elements also consumes energy, but the process is far more cost effective than the infrastructure, manpower, and safety cost involved in handling toxic chemicals.

This multi-level beneficial ripple effect from implementing next-generation green technologies extends to every single “ecological niche” in the societal infrastructure. A municipality that installs a WiFi network to support a traffic-camera network can also use that WiFi backbone to provide a common-use IP-comms capability among that city’s first responders, for example.

Moving forward will expose some serious societal issues as well. Once we considered human staples to be food, clothing, and shelter. Do we expand that list to energy and data? If that is the case, how much data, and what kind? Just the news, or can you watch your favorite show, too? How much energy should be considered a baseline? A refrigerator’s worth of energy, or maybe that along with what a TV and air conditioner needs?

Joking aside, while we are not required to provide everything to everyone, we must make sure what we do provide works well. Kudos to the Bloomberg administration for implementing a green water purification solution that will help ensure NYC’s future sustainability.