City Completes $31 Million Drinking Water Connection To Randall’s & Wards Islands

Published on January 05, 2021, 4:23 pm
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The New York City Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Design and Construction (DDC) today announced that the $31 million project to upgrade the drinking water connection to Randall’s Island and Wards Island has been completed.

The construction of the new subaqueous water main will provide a reliable supply of water for the multiple public buildings, located on the islands.

Work included the use of a micro-tunnel boring machine (MTBM) that excavated the passage for the new pipeline beneath the Bronx Kill.

DEP funded the project while DDC managed the construction.

“Many critical facilities operate on Randalls and Wards Islands and this much-needed investment will ensure that they have a reliable supply of water for decades to come,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “I want to thank our partners at DDC for their work on this important infrastructure upgrade.”

“In addition to recreation areas, Randall’s and Wards islands contain critical infrastructure such as a state hospital and the FDNY Training Academy,” said DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “This new connection to the City’s water system, which DDC installed by tunneling under the East River to the Bronx, brings more reliable water service to all of the islands’ users. I would like to thank DEP and Commissioner Sapienza for entrusting us with this important work.”

“As a longtime proponent of infrastructure initiatives, I am thrilled that the project to update the drinking water on Randall’s and Wards Islands is complete,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12). “This new water connection is a long term investment in every single New Yorker by ensuring that people on both Islands have access to clean, drinkable water. Thank you to DEP and Commissioners Sapienza and Grillo for seeing this project come to fruition.”

“I am excited to see the completion of the infrastructure upgrade of the drinking water connection to Randall’s and Wards Island. The project upgrade is not only critical to the recreational services provided, but also to the many public facilities located on the islands,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “The infrastructure upgrade will now provide adequate and reliable drinking water and I want to thank DEP and DDC for their stewardship of this vital project.” 

Before the micro-tunneling could get underway, two 55-feet deep shafts were excavated, one as an entry point for the MTBM on Randall’s Island and one as an exit point at Brook Avenue in the Bronx.  Engineers then remotely operated the MTBM from the surface as the tunnel was bored from Randalls Island under the Bronx Kill to Brook Avenue in the Bronx. Micro-tunneling beneath the waterway, its tidal wetlands and the railroad tracks that follow the Bronx shoreline, allowed work to progress without disrupting these natural features and transportation routes.

The new 20-inch water main, which serves as a secondary feed for Randall’s Island, connects to an existing 36-inch water main at Brook Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx, and to an existing 20-inch water main on Randalls Island. The project included the construction of approximately 2,200 linear feet of new distribution water mains on the Islands, the replacement of over 230 linear feet of existing water mains and the addition of 5 new fire hydrants.

Upon the completion of construction, more than 24,000 square feet of sidewalk and 1,600 linear feet of curbs were reconstructed and over 2,800 square yards of pavement was replaced. Additionally, 37 new trees were planted and all impacted parkland was restored, including the reconstruction of more than 28,200 square feet of pedestrian pathway, the reinstallation of five pathway light poles, replacement of the irrigation system and the restoration of a playing field.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8.3 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $20.1 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, please visit here, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit

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