And so it happened that on July 13, 2017, with two minutes left ’til 10:45 a.m., career perfectionist and Snoop Dogg spirit animal Martha Stewart, 75, became the latest person to realize that the glamorous isle of Manhattan, despite its fame and fortune and highly exclusionary housing market, still smells a lot like sewage sometimes.
Not one to stand for a less-than-ideal olfactory experience in the city she loves, Stewart took to Twitter to express her displeasure.
“The west side drive at 139-140th streets smells like a terrible sewer,” the media mogul and upstate resident tweeted Thursday morning. “What goes on at the waste plant there right in the Hudson River?”
And then, a darker thought still.
“Is the sewage going into the river?” Stewart asked her nearly 4 million followers, pearls a-clutch.
The simple answer: No, sewage is not going into the river — at least not in raw form. The last time something that gross happened was in, like, 2011.
There is, however, a massive sewage plant located along the Hudson River between 137th and 145th streets, and it happens to be responsible for turning some 125 million gallons of sewage per day — plus a couple more hundred million gallons on rainy days — into water fit to discharge into the Hudson and become a safe habitat for fishies, kayakers, anyone who drunkenly falls overboard during the floating rosé festival, etc.
And among those hundreds of millions of gallons of sewae transformed into clean(ish) river water daily by the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant, it turns out, is the very poop put forth by Stewart and her magazine staff in their West Chelsea high rise. (Assuming the world’s leading perfectionists do, indeed, put forth sewage.)
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So now that we know “what goes on” there — what’s to be done about the smell?
One helpful soul among Stewart’s millions of followers was quick to point her toward a news clip from 2013. In it, city officials announced they had just invested $106 million in high-tech equipment that would capture and neutralize the pervasive poop smell that for years had been wafting westward from the sewage plant into the windows of unsuspecting Harlem residents.
“This investment will ensure that the North River Plant is equipped with the most effective technology to perform this vital environmental function,” city officials said at the time, “while remaining a good neighbor to the tens of thousands of residents in West Harlem and the 3 million annual visitors to Riverbank State Park.”
Today, according to the city, the plant’s “odor control facilities are among the most elaborate in the country.”
But as everyone who lives in the area knows: The city’s costly war on the Hudson River poop smell hasn’t worked quite as well as promised.
“It always smells like that Martha,” one of Stewart’s followers tweeted to her Thursday. “Residents have complained for yrs, the city tried to fix it but it still smells.”
Another came forward with a simple plea: “fix it mom.”
More equipped to fix Harlem’s enduring poop-smell problem, perhaps, would be the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the plant and is in charge of keeping its odors in check. Patch has reached out to department officials for comment; we’ll update this post if and when we hear back.
In the meantime, catch up on some of Martha’s other recent adventures in Harlem, including the time she built a “not that great” charity garden across from Mount Sinai and the time she stopped by the Famous Fish Market for a basket of fish ‘n’ chips in perfect disarray — (almost) just like a regular Harlemite.
This story has been updated. Pictured at top: Martha Stewart speaks onstage at the Good Health is Good Business panel at The Town Hall during 2016 Advertising Week New York on September 29, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York)