Big Water Projects in the Big Apple

The New York City water department delivers nearly 4 million cubic meters (1 billion gallons) of water per day to 9 million customers. To keep up with demand and to meet water quality regulations, the city is undertaking several major water infrastructure projects.

These projects are a microcosm of municipal water issues across the United States: sewer overflows, supply reliability, and upgrades to drinking water and sewage-treatment plants.

In all, New York City has spent roughly $US 21 billion on water projects in the last 10 years, with billions more planned for the next decade. In September 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg also drafted a plan to spend $US 2.4 billion on green infrastructure over the next 20 years to improve water quality.

Here are a few of the biggest projects under construction or recently completed:

Project: Croton Filtration Plant

Cost Completion Date
$US 3.2 billion 2013

Old CrotonNew York City gets drinking water from three watersheds and from an aquifer in Queens. Water from the Catskill and Delaware watersheds is unfiltered, thanks to upstream land protection and the blessing of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But a 1998 legal agreement between the U.S. government, the state of New York, and the city required that supplies from the Croton Watershed be filtered. The filtration plant is being constructed in an excavated site in Van Courtland Park. Once the facility is completed, a golf course driving range will be placed on top.

Project: Delaware Aqueduct Bypass Tunnel

Cost Completion Date
$US 1.2 billion 2019

Built during World War II, the Delaware Aqueduct delivers at least half of New York City’s water supply. A tunneled section of the 137-kilometer (85-mile) conduit has been leaking since at least the 1990s, losing 55,000 to 135,000 cubic meters (15 million to 35 million gallons) per day. The city is preparing to build a five-kilometer (three-mile) bypass around the leak. Construction will begin in 2013.

Project: Tunnel No. 3

Cost Completion Date
$US 6 billion Stage 1 already operating; Stage 2 in 2013

NYC-DEP_tunnel-no-3For the last four decades, deep beneath the city, workers have been drilling a third water-delivery tunnel. New York’s two intra-city tunnels opened in 1917 and 1936, and the newest addition — the largest capital project in the city’s history — will allow the old fleet to be inspected and repaired for the first time in nearly a century.

Project: Upgrades to Newtown Creek’s Treatment Plant

Cost Completion Date
$US 5 billion 2014

Newtown CreekThe Newtown Creek facility in Brooklyn is the largest of the city’s 14 wastewater-treatment plants. It handles 18 percent of the city’s dry weather sewer flows — 1.2 million cubic meters (310 million gallons) per day, serving approximately 1 million people. Renovations at Newtown Creek, which began in 1998, will expand the plant’s peak capacity to 2.6 million cubic meters (700 million gallons) per day during storms, allowing it to serve an additional 300,000 people.

Project: Catskill/Delaware Ultraviolet Treatment Plant

Cost Completion Date
$US 1.6 billion 2012

According to an agreement with the EPA, New York City does not have to filter water from the Catskill and Delaware watersheds. In 2002, however, the EPA said that the city would have to disinfect the water, if it wants to keep its filtration waiver. The treatment plant will use ultraviolet light to kill microbial contaminants, such as Cryptosporidium.

Project: Paerdegat Basin CSO Facility

Cost Completion Date
$US 437 million 2011

Some stormwater systems and sewer systems use the same set of pipes. A combined sewer overflow (CSO) happens when a sudden rush of stormwater exceeds a plant’s capacity, resulting in some flows being dumped untreated into water bodies. The Paerdegat Basin facility will hold up to 190,000 cubic meters (50 million gallons) of water during storms, so that the water can be run through the treatment system when the peak subsidies.

Project: Flushing Bay CSO facility

Cost Completion Date
$US 291 million 2009

This CSO facility holds up to 160,000 cubic meters (43 million gallons) during storms.

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply