Newsletter Sign-up Printer Friendly Format Translate This Page Text Size Small Medium Large


August 17, 2010


Michael Saucier / Angel Román (718) 595-6600

DEP, DDC Activate New Madison Avenue Water Main

Innovative Trenchless Technology Used In Upgrade Ensures More Reliable Water Supply and Minimizes Traffic Disruption

Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway and Design and Construction Deputy Commissioner for Infrastructure Eric C. Macfarlane today activated a crucial 48-inch water main on Madison Avenue from East 40th Street to East 55th Street, part of a larger project to upgrade the drinking water distribution network along Madison Avenue from Midtown to the Upper East Side. The $15.6 million reconstruction strengthens the reliability of the water supply network in Manhattan by restoring infrastructure that required frequent repairs. Innovative trenchless technology was used as part of the project to line more than 10,000 feet of water main. Trenchless technology is a type of construction where a water main is repaired by slipping a lining through the existing damaged pipe and expanding the lining to fit the shape of the pipe. This innovative technique required minimal excavation, making it much less disruptive to the community than traditional construction methods. The reconstruction was funded by DEP and managed by DDC and included installation of hydrants, new sidewalks and curbs.

"Upgrading the water mains on Madison Avenue will ensure that our water distribution network will run smoothly for decades to come," said Commissioner Holloway. "At the same time, we are pioneering new technology that allows us to make these critical investments with minimal impact on the community. With more than $250 million planned to improve our water distribution network in Manhattan over the next five years – including the completion of ten shaft sites in connection with City Tunnel No. 3 – the reliability and quality of our drinking water supply has never been better. I want to thank DDC for helping to make this project a reality."

"Excavation of streets is never welcomed in a neighborhood and we wanted to minimize the impact along the City's central business district to the largest extent possible," said Deputy Commissioner Eric C. Macfarlane. "I am proud of the way DDC's project engineers investigated the feasibility of relining this critical water supply infrastructure and designed a rehabilitation method for this pipeline using trenchless technology."

Water and sewer mains are more traditionally repaired or replaced by digging trenches throughout the length of the project in order to excavate the old main. For this project, state-of-the-art trenchless technology was used instead, and more than 10,000 feet of cast iron water main was upgraded along Madison Avenue which involved pulling segments of pipe lining through the existing 48-inch cast iron water main. After the pipe lining was inserted, the main was pressurized with water causing the lining to fit tightly against the cast iron main. The innovative process substantially reduces traffic congestion, pollution from trucking and waste material, and inconvenience to the local community, pedestrians, motorists and businesses. DEP will be assessing whether this new technology may be replicated in other areas with similar conditions.

The 48-inch water main placed back into service today was originally installed at least as far as 1870, based on the oldest DEP records, and taken out of service in the 1970s due to numerous joint leaks. Redundant distribution mains have been supplying the area's drinking water.  Today's activation completes the underground work on the project along Madison Avenue from East 40th Street to East 78th Street and remaining work from East 37th Street to East 40th  Street is scheduled for November. The newly activated main will help to distribute water from City Water Tunnel No. 3 in the future.

Upgrading water distribution and sewer infrastructure is a central part of DEP's upcoming capital plan. In Manhattan specifically, DEP has budgeted $425 million in additional capital spending of which $252 million is for water supply purposes, including the funding to complete ten Manhattan shaft connections from City Water Tunnel No. 3 to the distribution network. This work is critical to turning on the Manhattan leg of City Water Tunnel No. 3 by 2013.

DEP manages the City's water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents. New York City's water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the City, and is comprised of 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,400 miles of sewer lines take wastewater to 14 in-City treatment plants.

More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600