New York City forced to spend $3bn to protect residents’ drinking water

The US Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency have taken legal action to force the city of New York to cover its Hillview Reservoir, a project that is expected to cost about $3bn.

The 90-acre reservoir in Yonkers, New York City, is the last stop for drinking water before it enters the city’s water tunnels for distribution to residents. As it is an open storage facility, it can be contaminated by animals, causing "potentially fatal gastrointestinal illness in humans" according to the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs.

A $1m civil penalty for the "longstanding failure" of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection was also lodged.

Two construction projects will take place in addition to the cover:

  • The $1bn Kensico Eastview Connection involves construction of an underground aqueduct segment between the upstream Kensico Reservoir and Eastview ultraviolet treatment facility. It is due to be completed by 2035.
  • The $375m Hillview Reservoir Improvements project requires extensive repairs to the reservoir, including replacing sluice gates and building a new connection between the reservoir and water distribution tunnels. Work will be completed by 2033.

All construction work on the projects is due to be finished by 2049.

Until the cover is in operation, the city will have to implement interim measures to protect the water and local wildlife.

Image: The Hillview Reservoir (Jim Henderson/Public Domain)

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