New York City's water supply system has grown from a few wells on Manhattan Island to one of America's most extensive municipal systems. Today, it relies on a combination of tunnels, aqueducts and 19 reservoirs both in the city and far upstate to meet the daily needs of 8 million residents and countless visitors. Thanks to well protected wilderness watersheds, New York's water treatment is simpler than in other American cities. Downhill flow allows the system to do without pumps.
The complex system is divided into three separate systems:
- The Croton system, the oldest and smallest, sits in Westchester and Putnam Counties.
- The Catskill system, built decades later, is significantly larger then the Croton. In the early years of the 20th century, the city and state designated thousands of acres in the eastern Catskills to build two reservoirs that more than doubled the city's capacity.
- In the 1950s and 1960s, the city expanded its water system again, tapping the east and west branches of the Delaware River, as well as other tributaries of the Delaware and Hudson rivers to create the newest and largest of its three systems, the Delaware system, which provides around half of the city's water supply.
The Croton system is the source of numerous turbidity issues for the city's water. Engineering studies in 1903 also recognized that the clay of the steeply sloped Eastern Catskills turned the clear waters of the Schoharie and Esopus Creeks (which feed the Catskill system) muddy after storms. In addition, both the Cannonsville reservoir of the Delaware system, as well as many reservoirs within the Croton system have also had quality issues related to algeal blooms.
The city has sought to restrict development throughout its watershed. One of its largest watershed protection programs is the Land Acquisition Program, under which the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has purchased or protected through conservation easement over 70,000 acres (280 km²) since 1997.
World's 1st mobile water purification system debuts - April.26.2005
Jean-Michel Cousteau, explorer, educator, environmentalist and film producer, joined business executives yesterday, in New York, in launching the first water purification unit that converts polluted water into drinkable water.
The 12-meter-long mobile emergency filtration system, or MEFS, which was on display at a Manhattan pier in Chelsea,(pictured), took in large quantities of the Hudson River and converted the brown liquid into clear water during a process that took about 15 minutes, as reported by Kyodo News and published by Japan Today.
The self-contained unit could be installed on an emergency or temporary basis and would be capable of providing enough water for the daily needs of 10,000 people.