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August 12, 2004

Contact: Ian Michaels (718) 595-6600

New York City to Test Hudson River Aquifer for “Induced Infiltration” Study

Borings and Wells to Determine Usefulness of Groundwater beneath the River for Future Water Supply Needs

Commissioner Christopher O. Ward of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the DEP will soon begin a study on the Hudson River to determine whether groundwater from beneath the river could be a suitable source for the New York City water supply system.

“The City is looking at many ways it can improve the dependability of its water system, and the Hudson River is one source the City has used intermittently in the past,” said Commissioner Ward. “Induced infiltration from the aquifer that runs beneath the river is one way to improve the quality of water and to reduce the environmental effects of its use.”

A test well will draw up to four million gallons of water per day from the aquifer that runs through the sand and gravel that exists beneath the Hudson River . By drawing water from this aquifer, water from the river above can be induced to migrate through the river bottom and to infiltrate the aquifer. This migration and infiltration provides for natural filtration of the water and is expected to result in higher quality water than that taken directly from the river.

The $1.585 million study is intended to verify the existing geophysical survey and historical boring data, and provide better information on the characteristics of the aquifer, including its potential long-term water yield and water quality.

New York City ’s water comes from reservoirs throughout the City’s 2,000-square-mile upstate watershed. However, the City currently maintains a backup pumping station on the Hudson at the Town of Chelsea for use in times of severe drought. An induced infiltration system could potentially provide many benefits over the Chelsea Pump Station, including a lower impact on fisheries in the river and reduced microbial load, suspended solids and chlorine residual in the water. An induced infiltration system could also eliminate concerns about introducing zebra mussels into the water system.

The study will be performed in a stretch of the river between River Mile 65 and River Mile 68 in the vicinity of Chelsea , New York . It will use up to two 90-foot barges to drill 10 test borings up to 200 feet into the riverbed, and one platform on the river to serve as a base for a test well and observation well. Field work for the study is scheduled in two phases so as not to affect the critical fish spawning season. The first phase is scheduled to begin in mid-August and end in December. The second phase is scheduled to begin in July 2005 and end in December 2005.

As part of the study, DEP will install up to three test wells and up to three observation wells in the river. At any one time there will be a maximum of two barges or one platform in operation. The barges and the platform will move along the river from site to site, spending anywhere from two to eight weeks in any one location. Boring locations are all at least 400 feet from the shoreline. Work hours will be from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM on weekdays. Barges will launch from American Dock Corp in Newburgh . The drilling will be done by Warren George, Inc. of Jersey City .

The project has been coordinated with federal, state and local officials in order to minimize the impact on the community, and with the Coast Guard to minimize the effect on river traffic. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have also helped DEP set up the project so as to limit the effect on sensitive habitats. An Essential Fish Habitat Assessment (EFHA) was performed on the potential impact to over 15 species of local fish. An additional Endangered Species Act Consultation looked at the effects on local threatened and endangered species.

Induced infiltration technology is already in use in over 100 cities in the United States , and at other locations in Europe and throughout the world. U.S. cities that use induced infiltration include Albany and Binghamton in New York , as well as Perth Amboy , NJ , Cedar Rapids , IA , Columbus , OH , and Louisville , KY.


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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

(718) 595-6600