Underground water tunnel completed in Central Park

Amy Freeze reports from the park
October 16, 2013 2:38:07 PM PDT
Mayor Bloomberg announced the completion of an underground water tunnel, the first one in almost 100 years.

Most of us don't think about where it comes from, but the flow of water in New York City just got even more reliable.

It's a project 40 years in the making, Water Tunnel Number 3 gets turned on Wednesday.

The completed project costs $4.7 billion and provides critical water safety for the city.

200 feet below the streets of Manhattan surrounded by 400 million bedrocks is what Mayor Bloomberg calls one of the engineering wonders of the world, it's the place where a billion gallons of water flows in New York City every day.

"The truth is until today if there was a major failure the consequences could have been grim," Mayor Bloomberg said.

The solution is a backup tunnel 8 1/2 miles long that could bring reliable water, a massive dig that took thousands of sandhogs over two generations to complete is now finished.

"If we had a real problem with city tunnel 1 we could still reliable give water to Manhattan with no problems," said Jim Roberts, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.

To give you an idea if the size of the project, workers had to remove 82 million cubic feet if soil and rock, all that debris which was dumped at Arthur Kills was enough to fill up Madison Square Garden 200 times!

"We've committed $2.7 million that invest of the previous five administrations combined," Mayor Bloomberg said.

It's expensive, but necessary for a reliable system bringing fresh reservoir water at 350 million gallons of water per day.

"We are putting it on a different highway if you will and newer and bigger highway and caries it to the same spot," Roberts said.

While the city does not predict any changes in your water faucets, early tests of the system did create some nuisance brown water.

"We had reversal of flow on the East Side tested and safe to drink, run taps through that phase, it won't look or taste different," said Carter Strickland, Jr., DEP Commissioner.

"Our engineers and blue collar silent service day to day and its seamless and you've never had to even think of us," Roberts said.