I’m in the process of redecorating my upstairs bathroom (scraping old wallpaper, spackling, painting, new floor, new fixtures, new color scheme, etc), but try as I might, I can’t ignore the fact that the sink faucet is leaking and getting worse no matter which deft trick I try when shutting it off. Time for the plumber. It turns out we’ve got the same problem with our infrastructure… to the tune of millions of gallons of water being lost from New York City’s aging reservoir conduits.
Two hours north of New York City, in the Ulster County town of Wawarsing, a mile-long stream and a marsh the size of a football field have mysteriously formed along a country road. They are such a marvel that people come from miles around to drink the crystal-clear water, believing it is bubbling up from a hidden natural spring. The truth is far less romantic: The water is coming from a cracked 70-year-old tunnel hundreds of feet below ground, scientists say. The tunnel is leaking up to 36 million gallons a day as it carries drinking water from a reservoir to the big city. It is a powerful warning sign of a larger problem around the country: The infrastructure that delivers water to the nation’s cities is badly aging and in need of repairs.
36 million gallons! A day! But Syracuse’s water infrastructure is also complex, and water pipes are everywhere under our feet. Just up the street from me, Onondaga County’s water supply from Otisco Lake passes through a tract once known as “Lake Lawns.” I always used to wonder “where’s the lake?” Well, if that thing ever springs a leak, just wait for it! Not exactly any danger of the Johnstown Flood here, but one wonders… (For a good history of Syracuse’s water supply and especially information on the water service history of the western suburbs, see this page at OCWA.)
I also went to Carousel for the first time in a long while this past weekend to find that DestiNY’s munchkins had been all through the place painting in a new green and yellow color scheme and some pretty silly Burma-Shave-style messages along the walkways. All that was missing were the giant lollipops. While I marveled at the logistics of the new paint job, I did start to feel like I was in a huge Sprite commercial (or at least, it got me thinking about green lemons). It made me wonder at many recycled-paper press releases and fluttering banners we’ve seen in the sunshine, with little or no talk about what lies beneath. With all this talk about saving the Earth, let’s not forget that She doesn’t give a damn about the works of man.