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Mon September 20 2021

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Plans announced for $1.2bn New York water tunnel

16 Jul 18 Water supply in New York City and nearby Westchester County is to be improved through the construction of a US$1.2bn tunnelling project.

One end of the tunnel will be at Kensico Reservoir
One end of the tunnel will be at Kensico Reservoir

The new tunnel is intended to improve operational flexibility between the facilities supplying drinking water to more than nine million people in the area.

Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created by the project. Construction of the first elements of the project is expected to start in approximately five years, with work on the tunnel itself expected to begin around 2025. New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) expects to finish the project in about 2035.

The centrepiece of the project - known as the Kensico-Eastview Connection (KEC) - will be a 2-mile-long tunnel between Kensico Reservoir and the Catskill-Delaware Ultraviolet Light Disinfection Facility, which opened in 2012. The new aqueduct will provide an additional conveyance between the two, giving DEP the ability to take other facilities out of service for periodic maintenance and inspection.

Although the project is located in Westchester County, its work centres on the delivery and treatment of pristine drinking water that comes from six reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains.

The KEC project will include construction of the new tunnel and facilities to draw water from Kensico Reservoir and move it into the ultraviolet plant as well as other infrastructure work.

DEP expects the finished tunnel to measure approximately 27 feet in diameter and run 400-500 feet below ground. The tunnel will be large enough to carry up to 2.6 billion gallons of water each day. Its design is taking account of future growth in the New York City and Westchester County, the potential addition of treatment facilities and the need to take other aqueducts out of service periodically for maintenance or inspection.

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The project also includes new facilities and site work at Kensico Reservoir and the ultraviolet treatment plant.

In addition to the work at Kensico Reservoir, DEP will also build a connection chamber at the ultraviolet plant to receive water from the new tunnel. The chamber will connect to a number of existing pipes at the ultraviolet facility that were installed at the time of its construction. Work at this site will also include a number of projects related to drainage, stormwater and utility improvements.

During the next several years, DEP will work toward completing the design of the tunnel and the facilities that will connect it to the reservoir and ultraviolet plant. It will also start the process of environmental review and obtaining dozens of permits from federal, state, county, city and local agencies.

“The Kensico-Eastview Connection is a critical investment in the long-term resiliency of New York City’s water supply system,” DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. “By providing an additional connection between Kensico Reservoir and our treatment facilities to the south, this new tunnel will further guarantee the reliable delivery of water to New York City and population centres in Westchester County, including New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers.”

“Clean drinking water is the lifeblood of our communities,” said state assembly member Tom Abinanti. “We must modernize our systems to ensure that high-quality drinking water continues to flow when we turn on the tap.”

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