faucet with a drip of water

Underneath the city of New York is a feat of engineering: a tunnel lined with nearly three million cubic feet of concrete and twenty feet in diameter at it’s widest point. The New York Times writes that it’s “considered the largest capital construction project ever undertaken in the five boroughs.” It’s not a subway tunnel, and it’s not for cars either. But it’ll carry 6.3 billion bottles worth of water daily: it’s the very aptly named Water Tunnel No. 3, which, last week, finally began delivering water to Manhattan.

This third tunnel was first proposed in 1954, to furnish the city with “crucial infrastructure redundancy”: without it, had any of the other tunnels collapsed, the city might have been without water for “two to three years” and some areas would become uninhabitable. The work is not yet done, though: the Brooklyn and Queens sections are still unfinished and the city will now be inspecting and repairing the first tunnel, which has continually been delivering water since 1917.

The City of New York will be communicating their efforts with an annual report of the New York City Water and Sewer System, due out in November. This report, which we are creating for the System, will emphasize the astonishing numbers and engineering aspects of the Water Tunnel feat. Accented with technical drawings and playing up photography, the report will take a visual approach to celebrating this impressive engineering achievement.

The city expects the tunnel extensions into Brooklyn and Queens to be completed in 2021.