City Investing $24 Million to Build New Drinking Water Connection to City Island in Bronx

March 3, 2020

New Water Mains Constructed Beneath Pelham Bay Will Help to Ensure a Reliable Supply of High-Quality Water for the Island

Photos of the Work and a Map are Available on DEP’s Flickr Page

The New York City Departments of Environmental Protection and Design and Construction today announced that work is underway on a $24 million project to upgrade the drinking water supply connection to City Island in the Bronx. Constructing two new water mains under Pelham Bay will help to ensure a reliable supply of water for the residents and businesses located on the Island. Work includes the use of horizontal directional drilling technology to create a passage for the new pipes beneath the Bay. DEP is funding the project and DDC is managing the construction, which is anticipated to be completed in 2022.

“We are investing $24 million to help ensure a reliable supply of high quality drinking water for the residents, businesses and visitors to City Island,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “Thank you to our partners at DDC for managing this important and complex project.”

“By drilling through bedrock from the mainland toward City Island we do not disturb any marine life or the sea floor, and we do not hinder navigation in the channel during construction,” said DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “This is a large investment in City Island that we anticipate will be in use through the end of this century.”

“It is important that we, as a city, continue to improve our critical infrastructure. This water main replacement project will provide an upgraded water supply connection to City Island, benefitting both residents and businesses, and I am grateful to the DEP and DDC for moving forward with this important project,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz.

“City Islanders deserve high-quality water as they pay the same rates as everyone else. I appreciate DEP’s and DDC’s forward-thinking approach to this project in choosing an installation site that minimizes the impact to the residents and nautical atmosphere of the Island,” said Assembly Member Michael Benedetto.

“Every New Yorker and business establishment deserves access to high-quality drinking water&emdash;it is essential to the health of our communities. I thank the New York City Departments of Environmental Protection and Design and Construction for the $24 million investment to update the drinking water supply connection to City Island, and improve the lives of nearly 4,500 Bronx residents. I look forward to the construction's success,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx/Westchester).

“As a Community Board, it is our job to have our partners in government address our infrastructure needs,” said Community Board 10 District Manager Matthew Cruz. “We are thankful to DEP and DDC for committing to an invaluable water main project for the residents of our City Island.”

“The City Island community is delighted to have the new water main project underway at last. The DDC team has been terrific in communicating with the residents and keeping disruption here to a minimum,” said Barbara Dolensek of the City Island Civic Association.

“This upgrade to the drinking water supply connection to City Island has been long needed and I await its completion. We need to do a better job, going forward, to ensure and provide high-quality drinking water to our communities and that the upgrade meets the most efficient, innovative and environmentally friendly methods,” said Council Member Mark Gjonaj.

For this project, engineers will employ horizontal directional drilling (HDD) technology to create a pathway under Pelham Bay for the pipes to travel from the Rodman’s Neck peninsula on the mainland toward City Island. The HDD process includes boring a pilot hole from one surface point to another, expanding that hole to the appropriate diameter in order to accommodate the pipes being installed, grouting into place a steel sleeve that stabilizes the tunnel that has been created, and then pulling the pipes through the enlarged hole. Ongoing preparatory work on City Island includes the excavation of a coffer dam approximately 30-feet deep that will serve as the receiving pit for the new pipes.

Once installed, the two new 20-inch subaqueous water mains, stretching approximately 5,200 linear feet in length, will serve as new feeds for City Island. These pipelines will replace an older 12-inch underwater main and a temporary 16-inch main currently installed on the City Island Bridge, which will be removed. The new water mains will connect to existing 20-inch and 24-inch water mains on the mainland, and tie-in to existing 8-inch and 20-inch water mains on City Island. The project also includes the construction of approximately 500 additional linear feet of 12-inch distribution water mains and the addition of new fire hydrants on both sides of Pelham Bay.

City Island is approximately 1.5 miles long by 0.5 miles wide and is located at the western end of Long Island Sound. The island has a population of approximately 4,500 residents and was one of the Pelham Islands once owned by English physician Thomas Pell, who acquired the land in 1654. City Island was part of the town of Pelham but voted to join New York City in 1895. It was consolidated as part of the Bronx in 1898.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to more than 9.6 million residents, including 8.6 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 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 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $20.1 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit