About New York
Enjoy the Parade, and Don’t Forget to Thank Your Friendly Sewer Workers
By JIM DWYER
Published: November 26, 2013
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By midmorning Tuesday, the sewer workers had taken apart five catch basins along Central Park West near the American Museum of Natural History. Then they scooped out street sludge that had been trapped in a kind of holding vault, where it had steeped for two or three years in about four feet of water.Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for news and conversation.
How much sludge?
No one weighed it all, but between half a ton and a ton is pulled from the average basin, said James J. Roberts, chieftain of the New York’s water and sewer systems, a position that comes with the title of deputy commissioner in the Department of Environmental Protection.
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Mr. Roberts, 52, who grew up in Washington Heights, in northern Manhattan, and studied civil engineering at Manhattan College, has worked for the city since 1986. He learned the twin systems of water distribution and sewage collection, the yin and yang of our civilization.
New York’s most famous sewer worker is, of course, the fictional Ed Norton, “sub-supervisor in the subdivision of the department of subterranean sanitation,” and the irreplaceable sidekick of Ralph Kramden in “The Honeymooners.”
“Like we say in the sewer, ‘Time and tide wait for no man,’ ” Norton says in one episode.
Mr. Roberts was not happy to hear the name of Ed Norton invoked. “Doesn’t make us look too intelligent,” he said.
But wait a minute. Norton is the man who wrote “S.W.A.K.” on envelopes — not, he explained, as a romantic abbreviation of “Sealed With A Kiss,” but to proclaim, “Sewer Workers Are King.”
Which is just about the right message for this Thanksgiving.
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Roberts, James J. [MC????]
[JR: Have to laff at SWAK. I remember seeing that on TV. And, razed some of my fellow Jasper sanitary injineers.]
# – # – # – # – # 2013-Nov-26 @ 23:30
I believe that James is a member of the Class of 1983.
McEneney, Mike (MC1953)
[JR: Thanks, Mike. Much appreciated.]
Roberts, James J. [MC1983]
# – # – # – # – # 2013-Nov-28 @ 00:42