Third Water Tunnel

The Third Water Tunnel is a massive and long awaited project that will dramatically improve the provision of water to the City. First mapped out in 1950, it provides a third route for water to travel from reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains upstate to NYC, which engineers say is necessary in case Water Tunnel Number One, the only operational tunnel, fails.  As part of the project, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has placed two shafts within our district to bring water from the tunnel to surface pipes. Shaft 32B is located at East 35th Street between 2nd Avenue and the midtown tunnel approach adjacent to St. Varten Park. The second site, shaft 33B, is located under the Queens Borough Bridge at 59 off of 1st Avenue.

There was a great deal of community controversy over the proposed construction route of the underground water mains. Please contact the CB6 Office with any complaints or concerns about the project at 212-319-3750 or

The Third Water Tunnel began operation in October, 2013.  “Until today, if there was ever a major failure of Water Tunnel Number One, the potential for public safety consequences in Manhattan could have been really grim,” Mayor Bloomberg said. The city’s only operational water tunnel has not been inspected since 1917, when it was completed. “If we were to lose one of the tunnels without backup, that part of the city would be uninhabitable,” Bloomberg said.  He and other officials activated the final stage of the tunnel, which is 8.5 miles long and cost $1.1 billion to construct.  The next step is to complete the tunnel running through Brooklyn and Queens, a project that is expected to be complete in 2021.  “Today, the city faces another water crisis,” said Cas Holloway, the deputy mayor for operations. “The seas are warming and sea levels are rising, threatening our coastal city… So, as we mark this major milestone in the city’s history, it’s worth noting that we are far from finished.”

NYC DDC Brochure about the Third Water Tunnel work on East 59th St.

Community Advisory Notices from DDC