The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has delayed a ten-week shutdown of the Catskill Aqueduct until next year. The shutdown was planned to carry out needed cleaning and rehabilitation.
The shutdown was scheduled for next month, said DEP spokesman Adam Bosch, but was pushed back until October, 2018.
Bosch described the project as “tricky” to design. “We are cleaning about 59 miles of the aqueduct, and we are also replacing valves inside the aqueduct that are more than 100 years old,” Bosch wrote in an email last week.
“The design of that work was delayed a bit, and we could not get it all finished in time for a full shutdown in 2017. We expect to have ten-week shutdowns in 2018, 2019 and 2020.”
However, the aqueduct will shut down for about a week for regular inspections sometime this fall, said Bosch. “This is not out of the ordinary,” he wrote. “It is fairly typical for DEP to shut down the Catskill Aqueduct for a week or two in the fall. Before we do this, we always reach out to the 74 communities that are connected to our system to ensure their backup supplies are at the ready.”
The Catskill Aqueduct draws on water from the Ashokan and Schoharie reservoirs, and serves as the one of the primary drinking water sources for New York City. The aqueduct also provides drinking water for upstate communities including New Windsor and the City of Newburgh.
The city had been forced to switch to using Catskill Aqueduct water when PFOS contamination was discovered at Washington Lake last spring. The city had planned to switch back to Washington Lake next month. Massive upgrades at the city’s water treatment plant – including the installation of a filtration system to remove PFOS – were on track to be completed in time for the shutdown, said city Water Superintendent Wayne Vradenburgh.
The majority of residents in the Town of New Windsor currently rely on Catskill Aqueduct water, said town Chief Water Plant Operator John Egitto. However, the town may no longer require Catskill Aqueduct water when the 10-week shutdown takes place next year.
“The town has awarded a bid to a contractor to construct a water filtration plant for the Butter Hill Wells,” Egitto explained. “Construction is about to commence. It is anticipated that project will be completed before October next year. That will eliminate any need to use another water supply other than the new system.”
An aquifer in the town’s Butter Hill area, next to the Moodna Creek, is expected to produce a total of three wells. Each is expected to yield at least 1,000 gallons per minute of raw water when finished.
By SHANTAL RILEY