Wednesday, November 16

Smooth Is The Water Where The Brook Runs Deep.

(A worker in a New York Water Plant. Photo credit: Randolph Mase)
                   The New York City Water Board is rarely spoken of, but perhaps that is because the nature of its service: To remain as seemingly smooth and natural as spring water rounding a river rock; a set of only six board members (appointed to two-year terms by the mayor) working behind the scenes of something so omnipresent.
An afterthought for many New Yorkers, the water infrastructure brings in an estimated one billion gallons of water to New York City each day. It is the responsibility of the New York City Water Board to determine the rates and regulations that fund this flow of water throughout NYC. The Water and Sewer System is simply referred to as ‘The System”, but the Board is invested in considerable transparency, offering regularly updated, accessible reports on meeting minutes, rate regulations, public notices, and more, including a little Blue Book with very large plans.
In addition to determining rates, the New York City Water Board (working with the Department of Environmental Protection) is involved in initiatives to fund large projects. The largest and most expansive are the plans for the Croton Water Filtration Plant.
Plans for the Croton Water Filtration Plant. Photo Credit: NYC Gov Parks)

The Croton Water Filtration Plant, which will start in 2012 and is planned to be operational in 2013, will be the first WTP to be located in the boroughs of New York.  It will have the capacity to handle 30% of New York’s water supply, and will be located underneath the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park. All told, it will be the single largest construction contract in New York history.
At an estimated cost of 3 billion dollars and 12 acre construction (including an estimated 73,000m of rock and soil to be excavated), the DEP has worked to ensure good will with the Bronx community. The DEP has agreed, in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, to offer $200 million toward developing parks throughout the Bronx. Space has been an issue, including the Plant’s temporary takeover of the Mosholu Golf Course in Van Cortlandt Park. Ten acres of land will be turned back into a gold course upon completion of the Plant.
While issues of space in the Plant have arisen, funding has proven an occasionally even choppier obstacle.  Funding for the Croton Water Filtration Plant (and other projects) has been costly. According to a 2012 Blue Book report, DEP’s ‘current daily expenditure rate is nearly $9 million per day on construction, design, and construction management’. One way of closing the current $26.6 Billion debt is a proposal by the board to increase water and sewer rates by 7.5%. The estimated annual household cost to fund the Croton Water Filtration Plant mandate would be $44, nearly double the cost of the Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility ($23), but only slightly more than the Newton Creek Treatment Plant ($42).
If New Yorkers feel the rates are too high, too low, or, even, just right, the New York City Water Board will be meeting this Friday (November 18th) at 8:30 A.M at 22 Reade Street (Spector Hall). 

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