Aqueduct re­pair meet­ing draws only sparse crowd

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - Mid-Hud­son News Network More info: on.nyc. gov/2e71K87

Only a hand­ful of peo­ple turned out for a pub­lic hear­ing on a $1.3 bil­lion plan to re­pair and re­fur­bish two aqueduct tun­nels of the New York City wa­ter sys­tem.

Thurs­day’s gath­er­ing was the first of sev­eral hear­ings sched­uled by the New York City De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

The orig­i­nal Catskill Aqueduct was com­pleted in 1916, de­liv­er­ing wa­ter from points north to New York City af­ter pass­ing through the Hud­son Val­ley and Catskills.

The Delaware Aqueduct brings wa­ter from western reser­voirs touch­ing New York’s South­ern Tier and passes through the Wawars­ing-Na­panoch area in Ul­ster County. Con­structed dur­ing World War II, it is the long­est tun­nel in the world but has a his­tory of ma­jor leaks, es­pe­cially in Na­panoch and New­burgh.

Fix­ing the leaks will re­quire shut­ting down and drain­ing out the Delaware tun­nel sys­tem and build­ing a per­ma­nent by­pass tun­nel be­neath the Hud­son River. The ex­ist­ing tube sup­plies half of the wa­ter for the en­tire sys­tem.

The work an­tic­i­pates 10- to 14-day shut­downs for 2017 and 10-week shut­downs each of the fol­low­ing three years. The shut­down in 2020 was added to give con­trac­tors more time to pre­pare for the work.

De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion spokesman Adam Bosch has said pre­vi­ously that there are about 70 up­state com­mu­ni­ties that use the Catskill and Delaware aque­ducts as ei­ther a pri­mary or se­condary wa­ter source. The city has promised to pro­vide fund­ing for al­ter­na­tive wa­ter sources dur­ing the shut­downs for the town and vil­lage of New Paltz, the High Falls Wa­ter District, the town and city of New­burgh and the towns of New Wind­sor and Marl­bor­ough.

Be­fore the Delaware fixes can hap­pen, the Catskill branch must be re­fur­bished and cleaned out to ac­com­mo­date a thirsty New York City. This older aqueduct will be shut down first, for three sep­a­rate 10-week stretches span­ning sev­eral years — 2018, 2019, and 2020 — in or­der to bet­ter han­dle the full New York City load dur­ing the Delaware re­pair phase.

“When that Delaware Aqueduct gets shut down for a pe­riod of six months, we are go­ing to have to op­er­ate the sys­tem dif­fer­ently than we do on a day-to-day ba­sis,” Bosch said at the hear­ing Thurs­day.

Bosch said the Catskill tubes must be cleaned of biofilm ac­cu­mu­la­tion, a harm­less slime that feeds off iron and man­ganese in the wa­ter but sticks to the in­side walls and slows down the flow, re­duc­ing ca­pac­ity. Valves and other in­fra­struc­ture com­po­nents also will be up­graded.

“There will be teams of work­ers with industrial squeegees, so to speak, go­ing in and lit­er­ally scrap­ing that aqueduct clean for 40 miles,” Bosch said. “It is a re­ally big, com­plex project. These ef­forts amount to the big­gest re­pair project in the his­tory of the largest wa­ter sup­ply in the United States.”

Chlo­rine diox­ide and sodium hypochlo­rite will be added to the wa­ter to also help re­duce the crud, which will be fil­tered down­stream be­fore reach­ing con­sumers. Of­fi­cials ad­vised that some of this ma­te­rial might con­tam­i­nate the en­vi­ron­ment through smaller sys­tem leaks.

Some work al­ready has been com­pleted — in par­tic­u­lar a con­nec­tion of the two aque­ducts where they cross each other in Gar­diner. Delaware Shaft No. 4 is lo­cated along Route 208, just south of the Tan­tillo Farm.

Built 70 years ago, Shaft No. 4 fea­tures arches which were bricked over. “En­gi­neers had the fore­thought that one day it might be valu­able to the city, to be able to con­nect those two aque­ducts,” Bosch noted.

“It’s only a one-way con­nec­tion; at this spot we’re able to put wa­ter from the Delaware Aqueduct into the Catskill Aqueduct, which will, in the fu­ture, help us deal with episodic prob­lems of tur­bid­ity in the Catskill sys­tem,” Bosch said. “It will also help us get some Delaware wa­ter down the Catskill Aqueduct, when we may need to do some work up­stream of that Catskill con­nec­tion.”

Among the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties af­fected by this work are towns of Marl­bor­ough and New­burgh, which use the Delaware Aqueduct as a wa­ter sup­ply; plus New Wind­sor, New Paltz and High Falls, which draw their mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter from the Catskill Aqueduct. Gar­diner also has a new hookup for fu­ture industrial wa­ter use.

Bosch said Lake Wash­ing­ton will be used to sup­ply New­burgh dur­ing the shut­down. Last sum­mer, the car­cino­genic con­tam­i­nant PFOS (per­flu­o­rooc­tane­sul­fonic acid) was dis­cov­ered there. Fil­tra­tion equip­ment is ex­pected to be ready be­fore the switchover. In High Falls, wa­ter will be trucked in.

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