Way Down in the Hole | Environment | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Way Down in the Hole 

Last Updated: 04/12/2016 10:04 am

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The tunnel will be 20 feet in diameter, including a six-foot steel lining—running deep enough into the riverbanks to avoid cracks in the limestone. The remaining 14 feet of water capacity are large enough to run a train through—in fact, a rail line will transport the rock out of the tunnel as it's being excavated during construction. The tunnel will be so big that, if necessary, it could move all of New York City's water at once, should other aqueducts need repairs. Amazingly, the rest of the aqueduct system needs nary a touchup. The shale it was tunneled through has proved enduringly reliable. The craftsmanship of this underground network of tunnels leaves today's engineers stupefied. Except for the lamentable limestone cracks, the system, 175 years old in some parts, is in immaculate shape.

A few years from now, the Delaware Aqueduct will be pumped dry for the first time since 1957, touched up, and rerouted. Then water will flow below us again, and the old water system will resume its diligent service to people in the city and upstate, the overwhelming majority of whom will never lay eyes on the technological marvel that puts water in their faucets and showers.

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