THE CATSKILL WATERSHED

THE CATSKILL WATERSHED

When the whole of the Catskill water supply for New York city has been developed, the water will be taken from four different sources—the Esopus creek, with a watershed of 255 sq. m., whose water will be impounded by the Ashokan dam. with a maximum height of 220 ft. and a length of 5,650 ft., now being built at Olive bridge in Ulster county. The water area of the reservior thus created will be 2)4 miles wide; its capacity, 170,000,000,000 gal., furnishes a daily supply of 250,000.000. The Rondout, the Schoharie and the Catskill rivers will ultimately be drawn upon. The Esopus creek water is now being dealt with. The Ashokan dam (sections of which are illustrated herewith), as has before been told in these columns, will be part masonry and part earth. The width of its base at the centre will be nearly 200 ft. The earth and core-wall portions will extend from the masonry middle section to a junction with the valley on one side and some high ground on the other, and, in addition to the dam, will be a series of dykes, which will be built across depressions in the country to hold the water at the desired level. Beyond the dykes will he a large waste-weir, which, together . with the dykes, will have a total length of 3.8 miles. The preliminary work in the way of excavations for the dam is shown in the accompanying illustration, from which it will be seen that the water of the Esopus creek is bypassed during construction by two 8-ft. steel pipes, big enough to accommodate the creek at its ordinary level, and. as the excavation is carried farther down, the water will he diverted through a channel running along the side of the valley. While the masonry work of the dam is being erected a tunnel, which will be left open till the work is completed, will carry the water away. From the dam the water will flow by gravity through a steel-and-concrete aqueduct (illustrated herewith), 17 ft. in the clear in height and 17)4 ft. wide, built partly in tunnel and partly in the cutand-cover method to the west bank of the Hudson river, at a point between Cornwall and West Point. As for the support of this conduit, no proper wall foundation can be found in the Hudson river, it is almost certain thatit will have to rest on a huge viaduct built across the river to the east bank of the river and continued till it reaches the new Croton reservoir, where connections will be made to draw the water directly from the Ashokan dam into the Croton reservoir until such time as the aqueduct from Ashokan to New York city shall have been completed. From the Croton reservoir the aqueduct will be carried on to the enlarged Kensico reservoir (which will then include Rye pond). This will form an auxiliary storage-reservoir 355 ft. above mean tide and will have a capacity of 25,000,000,000 gal.—sufficient to supply the city for fifty days with 500,000,000 gal. per day. About four miles south of Kensico. at Scarsdale, will be built a large filtration plant, and at Hillview, 6 miles farther south, will be another storage reservoir.

SECTION OF CONDUIT OF CATSKILL AQUEDUCT NEW SUPPLY FOR NEW YORK.

A tunnel of 200,000,000-gal. capacity below the East river, Brooklyn and Richmond (Staten Island) boroughs will be supplied with 100,000,000 gal. daily, the aqueduct terminating in a large reservoir to be built in Forest Park. From the point on Long Island, where this tunnel touches, a line of 20,000,000-gal. capacity will be built through Brooklyn and between the Narrows to Staten Island.

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THE CATSKILL WATERSHED.

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THE CATSKILL WATERSHED.

THE watershed of the Catskill creek, the Esopus, and the east branch of the Delaware river, all of which lie and are in the State of New York, and are, besides, of ample capacity and sufficient elevation for storage facilities, appears to elicit the favorable consideration of Mr. Birdsall, the chief engineer of water supply of this city, as the most desirable source of additional water supply. We are pleased to note the fact that Mr. Birdsall, notwithstanding the determined opposition of prominent officials and citizens, possesses convictions, accompanied by the courage required to declare them. The fact that the Ramapo Water company was unable to obtain a contract to supply the city of New York with water, and the additional fact that the same company holds water right options, should form no bar to the city’s seeking to acquire the same by condemnation proceedings. The people of New York require more water and plenty of it. Mr. Freeman, an engineer of reputation, was engaged by Mr. Coler, comptroler of the city, to investigate several watersheds, with a view to determine which would be the best for New York city. He reported in favor of adopting his plan to bring the water from Ten Mile river, a stream which drains a part ot Connecticut, as well as New York. Mr. Freeman’s report is an elaborate one; unfortunately, however, analysis of it reveals a determined prejudice against the use of any water over which tne Ramapo Water company possessed a proprietary right. The report was rather in the direction of aiding Mr. Coler in his determined opposition to favoriug anything in the way of absorbing the water privileges of a corporation that bad provoked his hostility. The main question is, not the fight between Ramapo and Mr. Coler, hut rather, what is the best thing to do for New York city. If the Ramapo Water company has anything in the way of water rights that the city of New York requires, it may be obtaiued by due process of law. If the proper officers of the department of water supply are convinced that the watersheds herein referred to are suitable and ample for the requirements of the city, and are superior in all respects to those mentioned by Mr. Freeman in his report to Mr. Coler, then they should be sustained and adopted, and the property condemned We believe Mr. Birdsall’s position on the question to be the sound one. These watersheds of the Catskills are remote from the influences of pollution and contamination, and bid fair to remain so for generations to come, which IN more than can tie said of the Ten Mile river (Housatonic shed) or the wild scheme of pumping the Hudson river water at Poughkeepsie and then filtering it. It also seems to UH that there Is a great tendency on the part of Mr. Coler’s supporters to ignore tbo fact that the Catskill watershed lies altogether within the Slate of New York and is, therefore, essentially a home watershed, one with which no authorities outside of the State can interfere—in a word, is subject only to that home rule of which Mr. Coler is such an ardent supporter. If, on the coutrary, the Ten Mile river source were to be adopted, one of two expensive conditions must be satisfied. Either Now York city, which means the taxpayers, must buy off the claims of the State of Connecticut and those of all who claim water rights in that State, which will lie a very costly operation, or the city of New York cannot enjoy an unclouded title to the water of the aforesaid river, because of the infinite number of legal complications that would surely arise between the municipal authorities of this city and the private rights of citizens as well as of the town,county, and State authorities in Connecticut These might involve injunction upon injunction and appeal upon appeal, terminating most probably in an appeal to the Supreme court of the United States. The amount of expense this would entail upon the taxpayers of New York would stagger the community—whose suit might be defeated in the end, whereby a lot of money would go to enrich only, the lawyers, while in the meantime the work of providing the city with a supplementary supply would be hindered, pending a decision one way or the other, and someone else might step in and absorb the Catskill watershed, leaving New Yorkers literally as well as morally high and dry aud without any means of adding to their water supply, which after so many years of the law’s delays would have become so diminished as to have reduced the citizens of New York to the direst straits without their seeing any way out of their difficulty. Wherefore, on every accouut, whether of security of tenure, abundance and purity of the water and the possibilities of keeping it pure, economy, and lack of delay in the setting to work at once on the task of placing this city beyond the chances of a water famine, the Catskill watershed is the one to be preferred before those of the Ten Mile river, or the Hudson at Poughkeepsie, with its costly accompaniments of giant pumping and filtration plants.