I went to the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant the other day. I was looking for some surplus bricks and also to turn in a security gate swipe card that was given to me many years ago. Since I had not been there in a few years, I thought I would give myself a tour. It sure has changed with all the new construction. A lot of the older buildings are gone, replaced by new Clean Water Regulations. Last I heard it was over a billion dollars in upgrades!
Here is an aerial view of the plant. Red numbers correspond to the photographs. I tried to match up some of the older photos I have with what remains, not yet demolished.
This next drawing (thanks engineering) labels the buildings.
Here is a photo of just outside the gate, when the plant was first built, showing homes for sale. I had previously posted another blog back in March 2016 of the Eastern Ave entrance.
And here is an older aerial, showing a race track on the property.
Once through the gate and past the admin building on the right was this building. (#1) This was where I first started collecting and documenting the water and sewerage archives.
Across from here was a really smelly tank (#2). The drawing calls them the Primary Clarifiers.
Around the corner use to be this.
This is all that is left of the Trickling Filters.
The Waste Pickle Liquor Facility!?
The sludge Storage lagoon, according to the drawing. A worker there said they were sludge storage tanks that are no longer being used.
Let’s see what is up top (#5). It is covered over.
I tried to do some research in the one building by the smokestack years ago. I even volunteered to clean the mess up and document everything, but after a few years of asking and getting no response, I said forget it. There are a lot of the early sewer contracts on the 3rd floor. (#6)
The building to the left was the Vacuum Filter Building as shown below from the 1930s.
Next was a real lagoon of sorts. Just another dumping ground. (#7)
Then onto this – the Elutriation Tanks (can’t pronounce it, so I can’t explain it!!) It didn’t smell as bad as the first tank though.
I ran into a worker and asked where does all this flow into the river at, so he showed me. (#9) All the years of coming down here, this was the first time I saw this.
The sewage gently cascading down the steps to an opening that dumps into the river (as if sewerage can be called “gently cascading”!)
Past the trees and out into the river. (#10)
If anyone wants to fish near here, believe me, you don’t want to.
Here is what was the plant effluent when the plant was first built. Wooden Pipes.
They moved this discharge point over a bit, replacing the wood with steel.
Here is the view from the side, of the new concrete and steel structure.
With a close up. There were quite a few osprey in the area.
Next was the filtration building. (#11)
And how the original one looked when it was first being built.
Getting ready to head out and saw these stairs!
Ooops wait! Wrong photo (Although I did travel to Mexico and saw the ruins years ago) (#12)
Not sure what these were but it still has water flowing through it.
As can be seen on the above drawing there are a couple notations concerning Bethlehem Steel. With that plant closed down, I wonder where these pipe go and the purpose of the buildings?
Nice day at wastewater. PS – I never did find the bricks I was looking for. Ending up going to the Loading Dock and buying them!