13 Dec 2008
Tunnel Vision

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

Category: Sci-Tech
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  1. By Under Pressure on 2010-01-14 at 22:37:31

    […] we decry the timeliness of Jackson’s response to a few leaks, just image this 20 million gallon a day leak in NYC’s water supply that has been known about for 20 years. Related Posts (in theory, […]

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