Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big Numbers: New York's Water Supply

Perusing a little article on a leaky tunnel that brings water from the Catskills to New York City, I was struck by the immensity of the numbers involved. According to the Times, 15 to 35 million gallons of water are leaking from this tunnel every day, enough to cause flooding in nearby towns. Unable to fix the leaks without shutting down the water flow, the city has decided to build a 3-mile-long bypass tunnel around the leakiest section, at a cost of $1.2 billion.

The scope and expense of this system is amazing. If a 3-mile-long tunnel is going to cost $1.2 billion, imagine what it would cost to replicate the whole 57-mile Delaware Aqueduct, which carries about half the city's billion-gallons-a-day water supply.

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