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NYC DEP Plans Major Westchester Project

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Courtesy of NYC Department of Environmental Protection
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Kensico Reservoir/Dam

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has announced plans for a major tunneling project in Westchester County. It will be New York City’s largest water-supply tunneling effort in Westchester since the 1940s.

DEP spokesman Adam Bosch says the $1.2 billion tunneling project will start around 2023 and last until around 2035.

“We call it the Kensico-Eastview Connection project because it’s going to connect two very important facilities in that part of our water supply system —  Kensico Reservoir with the UV facility that we built in Eastview, which is the largest ultraviolet treatment facility in the world,” Bosch says. “And that tunnel is going to provide another connection between those facilities so that we have operational flexibility to take another tunnel out of service if we need to for repair or maintenance or inspection. It’s a place in the system where we felt that some additional redundancy and flexibility was really needed for the long-term operation the water supply.”

The facility in Eastview is the Catskill-Delaware Ultraviolet Light Disinfection Facility. The tunnel will be built in Mount Pleasant, stretch about 2 miles and measure some 27 feet in diameter.

“So we have to modify an intake chamber on Kensico Reservoir that will draw the water into that tunnel. We have to rebuild or redo part of a connection chamber at the ultraviolet facility that will take the water from the tunnel and put it up into the ultraviolet facility.” Bosch says. “There’s some chemical addition facilities that need to be updated for chlorinating the water.”

This part of the city’s water supply system services about 8.6 million people in New York City and about 500,000 in Westchester, such as in New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers — who are connected to the city’s system at Kensico Reservoir or facilities to the south. Democratic state Assemblyman Tom Abinanti represents the district where the project will be undertaken.

“It’s important that we keep our water system as modernized as possible,” Abinanti says. “Clean water is the lifeblood of our community, and being sure that it continues to flow so that when we turn on the tap clean water is flowing out is very important.”

And Republican state Senator Terrence Murphy says the project will render vital improvements to the infrastructure while creating jobs for local workers.

Word of the Westchester project comes as DEP’s billion-dollar Delaware Aqueduct repair project is under way to address two leaks in the 85-mile aqueduct. It’s the DEP’s largest ever repair project and involves construction of a bypass tunnel across the Hudson River, from Orange to Dutchess County.

Meantime, Bosch says the DEP has another Westchester project that will begin in the fall, in Valhalla. After 9/11, DEP closed the road over Kensico Dam that is now open as a pedestrian path.

“We had to take a look at what effect that had on traffic on local roads and see if there was any mitigation the city should do. And the results of that study were that there is mitigation we should do,” says Bosch. “So later this fall, people who live in that part of Valhalla will see a project started where we’re going to do some improvements to crosswalks, traffic signals, signs, intersections. So there’s going to be a lot of roadwork that DEP is overseeing in that area.”

Assemblyman Abinanti’s district includes Valhalla. He says closing the road to vehicular traffic has had a major impact on the community.

“But I recognize that preserving our drinking water is more important than the inconvenience that it has caused all of us,” says Abinanti. “I, myself, have had some significant inconveniences having to go way out of the way to get from one side of my district to the other, but it’s important that we preserve drinking water. And I’m just hopeful that the steps they are taking are sufficient.”

Bosch says the Valhalla project will cost about $6 million.

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