Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, visited workers at the Delaware Aqueduct Bypass Tunnel on May 9 to provide a blessing and underscore the importance of workplace safety. Dolan visited the construction site in Newburgh where more than 100 men and women are working on a $1 billion project to repair the 85-mile-long Delaware Aqueduct, the longest tunnel in the world.
The aqueduct delivers about 50 percent of New York City’s water each day from large reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains. The project, overseen by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), is the largest repair effort in the 176-year history of New York City’s water supply.
“You are all helping to provide the best drinking water in the world to the city where I live,” Dolan told the workers. “You have a very difficult job to provide for the common good, and your job requires you to take risks. I want you to know that you have our love, our appreciation and our esteem for that.”
Dolan was joined at the site by DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, and leaders from the Kiewit Corporation and J.F. Shea Construction, the contracting companies that are building the bypass tunnel. Dolan was the honored guest for safety week, a national effort to eliminate worker injuries by highlighting best practices and the industry’s steadfast commitment to safety at all construction sites.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of high-quality water each day to more than 9.6 million New Yorkers. This includes more than 70 upstate communities and institutions in Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties who consume an average of 110 million total gallons of drinking water daily from New York City’s water supply system. This water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and the system comprises 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts.
DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and other professionals in the watershed. In addition to its $70 million payroll and $166 million in annual taxes paid in upstate counties, DEP has invested more than $1.7 billion in watershed protection programs–including partnership organizations such as the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Watershed Agricultural Council–that support sustainable farming practices, environmentally sensitive economic development, and local economic opportunity. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program with $19.1 billion in investments planned over the next decade that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year.