New York City is condemning a tiny sliver of land in Pleasantville for the $158 million Catskill Aqueduct repair and rehabilitation project.
The city petitioned Westchester Supreme Court April 23 for authorization to use the eminent domain process to acquire an easement on 0.01 acre of land between Washington Avenue and the Saw Mill River.
The city’s Department of Environmental Protection plans to build a 15-foot-wide access road so that valves can be replaced “for the purpose of maintaining, preserving and increasing the supply of pure and wholesome water for the use of the city.”
The Catskill Aqueduct is a 92-mile-long conduit, built from 1907 to 1915, from Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County to Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers. It tunnels through mountains, plunges under creeks and rivers – including 1,114 feet beneath the Hudson River – and surfaces for long stretches in covered trenches, to supply 40 percent of the city’s water.
The project is setting the stage for an ambitious, $1 billion undertaking: the repair and replacement of sections of the leaky Delaware Aqueduct that supplies half of the city’s water. The Catskill project will increase the aqueduct’s capacity and offset a diminished water supply when the Delaware system is shut down for construction in 2022.
The projects are part of New York’s Water for the Future initiative that is meant to ensure clean water for 9 million people in the city and in upstate communities along the aqueducts.
The Catskill work began last fall, will continue for 10 weeks this fall and pick up again next fall during the low-demand periods.
The work is being staged in 10 sections, from Ashokan Reservoir to Kensico Reservoir, which covers Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties. Eight leaks will be fixed, 36 valves will be replaced and a 74-mile section will be inspected and cleaned. The work is expected to add 40 million gallons a day to the current 590-million-gallon capacity.
New York City held a public hearing in September on its intention to condemn the tiny Pleasantville plot. No one from the public spoke, according to the petition.
The plot, at 424 Washington Ave., is part of a 0.18-acre property and house purchased by Susanne M. Cox in 2007, for $539,000.
The city is asking the court to determine the price of the easement. In 2017, city officials authorized compensation of $17,500.