Sometimes it’s difficult to schedule a plumber, but twenty years? These leaks were discovered that long ago. An investigation of the extent of the problem was begun in 2004 … tick, tick, tick. But what really got my attention was the magnitude, both of the problem itself and total consumption.
All tunnels leak, but this one is a sieve. For most of the last two decades, the Rondout-West Branch tunnel — 45 miles long, 13.5 feet wide, up to 1,200 feet below ground and responsible for ferrying half of New York City’s water supply from reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains — has been leaking some 20 million gallons a day. Except recently, when on some days it has lost up to 36 million gallons. — Ken Belson, An Effort by Deep-Sea Divers to Repair a New York Water Tunnel, New York Times
According to the article, New Yorkers (about 8 million residents and another 1 million upriver) use about 1.2 billion gallons/day; historically:
- 1820s – 12 gal/day/person
- 1980s – 200 gal/day/person
- 2000s – 150 gal/day/person
image: NYC Dept. of Env. Protection, via New York Times article above