Latest Outline of the Catskill Water System
Charles Strauss, President of the New York Board of Water Supply, thus outlines the new Catskill water system up to the present stage of construction, and what it will amount to when completed:
“While the shot fired the other day by his honor the Mayor in the tunnel 450 feet below the street level at High Bridge Park and 150th street removed the final rocky barrier separating the advance guards of the army of the north from the army of the south, the main army of laborers on both flanks has been so industrious over the far-flung battle line of the 120 miles from the great dam, Ashokan, in the Catskills to the term_____nal of the system on Staten Island that the artificial river course has been completed to a condition to transport water over the 65 miles between the Ashokan reservoir and Croton Lake. This may reinforce temporarily the Croton supply should need arise. The last stone of the main masonry portion of the Ashokan Dam, one of the largest dams in the world—a masonry structure 190 feet through at the base, tapering to 26 1/2 feet thick at the top, 210 feet above the river bed—was placed on Nov. 10, 1910. three years from the date of the awarding of the contract. Meantime the river was flowing through an enormous hole left in the structure for the purpose, and the extreme northerly wing of the labor army of 3,000 men was raising the five miles of rolled earth dikes, with thin masonry core walls 100 feet high, to cut off low arms of the reservoir basin, razing the houses of seven villages, having a population of about 3,000; clearing 8,180 acres of forests and fields, removing and rebuilding 11 miles of railroad, building 40 miles of asphaltum concrete highways and 9 reinforced concrete bridges to replace the 64 miles of country highways to be submerged; installing gates, valves, screens and operating mechanisms, etc., with such success that this hole through the dam was closed on Sept. 9, 1912, and the stream began to spread out to claim a new resting place prepared for it, and to submerge the scenes of village and country life of this picturesque valley beneath its hundred-foot mantle of purest sparkling water. In the low parts of the valleys massive dikes prevent the waters of the reservoir from overflowing. The Ashokan reservoir will contain 130,000,000,000 gallons of water, 260 days’ supply at the present rate of consumption of the Greater City. From the confines of the Ashokan reservoir the water is led through the Catskill aqueduct, skirting hills, boring through mountains, dipping under deep valleys, brooking no obstacles in the superhuman endeavor to reach the city at as high an elevation as possible, so that the water will rise of its own accord to the top of a 20-story building.
“In case of any interruption of the flowage in the 77 miles of aqueduct between the Ashokan reservoir and Valhalla, near White Plains, there is being constructed a large emergency storage reservoir, called the Kensico reservoir, capable of holding 30,000,000,000 gallons, 60 days’ continuous supply. This necessitated the construction of a large masonry dam across the valley of the Bronx River. This is also one of the largest and highest dams of the world, being 310 feet high, 230 feet through at the base and tapering to 28 feet wide at the top. The method of distributing the Catskill water throughout all the boroughs of the Grea_____er City is an engineering innovation and surpasses that of any other city in the world. It consists of a single circular concrete-lined subterranean tunnel, varying in diameter from 15 to 11 feet and 18.1 miles long, loca_____ed in the solid rock at depths of from 200 to 700 feet below the street level. This main artery is connected to the present street mains through 22 shafts. At the present state of construction it is possible for a person to walk through the tunnel from the down-take shaft at the Hill View reservoir at Yonkers, down through the Bronx, under the Harlem River, thence under Manhattan, via Central Park, and under the East River at Delaneey street to the terminal shaft in Brooklyn at Flatbush avenue. From the terminal shaft in Brooklyn water is delivered’ through two large steel pipe conduits to the present distribution systems of Brooklyn and Queens. From the end of the southerly conduit the supply is carried across the bed of the Narrows through a 36,nch flexible jointed cast-iron pipe, and is then led to the terminal, Silver Lake reservoir on Staten Island, at an elevation of 225 feet above sea level. The total disbursements of the Board of Water Supply for all purposes to Dec. 31, 1913, amount to $108,902,962.03. The total amount of contracts awarded to date is $96,818,000, on which work to the amount of $78,800,000 has been done. There has been authorized altogether for the work necessary to complete the system for the delivery of the first 250,000,000 gallons per day a total of $141,872,000. The aqueduct and distribution system has been constructed to transport about 500,000,000 gallons per day. The first 250,000.000 gallons daily is obtained from the Esopus watershed, while to secure the remaining 250,000,000 gallons daily it will be necessary to buy the land and to construct the impounding works and connect them to the aqueduct on one or more of the adjacent streams in the Catskills, as contemplated in the original scheme approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment in 1905.
“To the question most frequently asked. ’When will the Catskill water be turned into the city tunnels?’ it may be said that provided no untoward happening occurs Catskill water will be flowing from household faucets in about two years from this time. The entire aqueduct is about 120 miles in length, and from the Ashokan reservoir down to the city line, a distance of ninety-two miles, it has been practically completed. All that remains to be done of the first stage of the development is the lining of the eighteen miles of the city tunnel, the completing touches at the Ashokan and Hill View reservoirs, and the completion of the Kensico and Silver Lake reservoirs and the Narrows crossing.”