Mayor Kasim Reed and Department of Watershed Management Commissioner Kishia L. Powell Sept. 21 announced “Driller Mike” as the Water Supply Program tunnel boring machine’s name. Mayor Reed was joined by U.S. Water Alliance Chief Executive Officer Radhika Fox and Atlanta City Councilmembers Andre Dickens, Natalyn Archibong and Felicia Moore during a press conference. The tunnel boring machine, “Driller Mike,” is named after Atlanta rapper and activist Michael “Killer Mike” Render who also attended the event.
“Driller Mike” will construct a 5-mile tunnel connecting the former Bellwood Quarry, the Chattahoochee River and the Hemphill Water Treatment Plant to fill the quarry with a 30-day drinking water supply for Atlanta residents.
“Today is a wonderful day in the City of Atlanta as we honor a milestone in our journey to secure Atlanta’s water supply for the next 100 years,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “Atlanta will be the only city in the United States with the capability to store 30 days of water. My administration’s investment in water infrastructure will spur economic development, create jobs and encourage greenspace expansion in West Atlanta while ensuring our resilience.”
The Water Supply Program is a $300 million investment to address the City’s aging infrastructure, while increasing Atlanta’s water reserve from three days to 30. Atkinson Construction has been awarded the contract to build the tunnel, using the city-bought Robbins TBM.
“This project is vital to the sustainability of the City of Atlanta and the metro region,” said Commissioner Kishia L. Powell. “It is Mayor Reed’s vision that made this monumental project a reality. His continued leadership will ensure Atlanta’s water sustainability for the next 100 years.”
The Department of Watershed Management conducted a tunnel boring naming contest and more than 700 names were submitted. “Scarlett,” “Peach Beast,” and “Driller Mike” were among the three finalist names. “Driller Mike,” submitted by Bryan Schroder, Senior Director of Development and Marketing at the Georgia Conservancy, received nearly 85 percent of the votes from Atlanta residents and water advocates.
“I use my voice to advocate for those who feel voiceless,” said Killer Mike. “Water supply is an important issue for everyone in Atlanta and this is my opportunity to educate people on critical water issues facing our city, our region and our nation. I am grateful that my name can be a part of this lasting legacy for the City of Atlanta.”