The infrastructure that transports the water from reservoirs in the Catskills Mountains to the 8 billion NYC residents is basically in shambles and up to thirty percent of the treated water never reaches the residents. It is leaked, lost and unaccounted for.
That’s up to 36 million gallons per day…36 million gallons of perfectly good drinking water wasted.
The city recognizes the problem, but it is not easy or cheap to fix.
Some sections of the aqueduct are up to 1,500 feet below the surface of the ground…not exactly easy access.
In 2008, the city attempted to fix a valve, which was not a simple task. It involved deep-sea divers living special pressurized quarters 700 feet down a well for a month, working 12 hours shifts. This fix barely scratches the surface of the problems with the water delivery system.
One major problem is that the water supply can’t be shut off to perform repairs, or loads of businesses and millions of people and would go without water.
A project to bypass a major leak is slated to begin in 2013, with expected completion in 2019 and an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.
The problem is ubiquitous
New York City isn’t the only city with this problem. In developed countries, it’s estimated that 10-30 percent of drinking water is unaccounted for. In developing countries, it’s even higher.
At what point will our society start valuing natural resources as much as they should be? Clean water is a very finite resource. I realize that $1.2 billion dollars is no small sum, but when divided amongst the residents of NYC, it works out to about $150 per person. Plus, over time, the city would presumably save money because they would be wasting a lot less water.
This problem should have beent taken care of ages ago.