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When Dinosaurs Roamed the Streets of New York City: Part One of a Three-Part Series on the Palisades

By Marcia Anderson

Rutiodon Manhattanensis

Rutiodon Manhattanensis

A little over 100 years ago, “Dinosaur Fever” hit New York City. On December 21, 1910, the front page of the New York Times announced the discovery of a crocodile-like dinosaur that once basked in the sun on the beaches of NYC and the Palisades. This was followed by a Christmas Day full-page article entitled, “When the Giant Dinosaur walked down Broadway.”

The well preserved skeleton of a 30-40 foot long dinosaur, standing 15-18 feet tall was discovered in the Palisades by a group of Columbia University students. The bones were found just south of the Palisades Interstate Park’s boundary in Edgewater, N.J., about a half mile from where the new George Washington Bridge was to be built. The bones were in a layer of soft shale at the edge of the Hudson River, embedded in a 5,000 pound block of stone that was eventually cut from surrounding rock and transported to its new home in the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).

He was of the genus Phytosaurus, an aquatic crocodile-like reptile with a long-toothed snout, a long flat tail and eyes and nostrils that were set on top of his head. The reptile was from the late Triassic Age, about 210 million years ago and was aptly named “Clepsysaurus manhattanesis.” Other Triassic brethren found along the Palisades were Coelacanth fish and Icarosaurus, one of the earliest winged reptiles. The NYC/NJ region was a veritable “Triassic Park” at that time.

The curator from the AMNH described the creature as “a cross between a crocodile and ostrich,” on mega steroids. A relative of an Iguanodon, he was originally thought to be an herbivorous dinosaur (a plant-eater), but is now believed to be carnivorous. The beasts roamed at will all along the banks of the Hudson, when most of North America lay near the Equator and enjoyed a sub-tropical climate.

Geology of the Palisades: The sandstone and shale layers of rock in which he and other creatures of the same period were found, were deposited in the early Triassic Period by the weathering of mountains and erosion of material deposited by rivers in the area. Toward the end of the Triassic, about 200 million years ago, the supercontinent, Pangaea, began to break apart.  That was when eastern North America began to separate from northwestern Africa, creating the Atlantic Ocean. The earth’s crust diverged in many places forming rift zones enabling large quantities of molten rock, or magma, to be released from deep within the Earth. Much of this magma did not breach the surface of the Earth. Instead, it flowed horizontally between the layers of sandstone and shale – like meat in the middle of a sandwich. The intense heat and pressure of the magma intrusion metamorphosed the surrounding sedimentary layers and thus preserved creatures trapped in them for us to find millions of years later. This particular intrusive river of hot magma cooled and is now known as the Palisades Sill.

Feel free to re-discover this early New Yorker for yourself and give the kids a thrill at the same time. He now resides in the AMNH Hall of Vertebrate Origins, as AMNH 4991,or Rutiodon manhattanensis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rutiodon_manhattanensis_AMNH_4991.jpg  His bones are still embedded in the black stone in which he was found, flanked by skeletons and skulls from similar animals. The American Museum of Natural History (http://www.amnh.org/) is located at 79th Street and Central Park West, New York City.

 

About the Author: Marcia is the bed bug and vector management specialist for the Pesticides Program in Edison. She has a BS in Biology from Monmouth, second degree in Environmental Design-Landscape Architecture from Rutgers, Masters in Instruction and Curriculum from Kean, and is a PhD in Environmental Management candidate from Montclair – specializing in Integrated Pest Management and Environmental Communications. Prior to EPA, and concurrently, she has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology and Oceanography at Kean University for 14 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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New York City Re-blooms

By Bonnie Bellow

With New York City street trees in full bloom, I can’t help thinking about my street tree, the one that went down with an unceremonious thud on the night of Hurricane Sandy. For more than 15 years, I have looked out the third floor windows of my Upper West Side apartment and marked the change of seasons by the leaves on that tree. I was awakened many a morning by the chirping of the motley crew of urban birds that sheltered in its branches. Now all that’s left is a monument to that scruffy tree – a stump in a small square of dirt cut out of the sidewalk, framed by a rod iron fence the height of a small dog.

The loss of one tree is really nothing compared to the people who died that terrible night and the vast destruction across the region. But it is something when you realize it was one of an estimated 10,000 New York City street trees toppled by the storm and thousands more in city parks, woodlands and backyards across the city. Trees are critical to making New York City livable. The shade they provide keeps city streets and buildings cooler, making us more comfortable outdoors and reducing the need to use as much energy for air conditioning. Reduced energy use translates directly into improved air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Trees also remove pollutants from the air, absorb and filter stormwater, reduce noise and just make the city more beautiful.

Now that my tree is gone, I look out on the brick façade of the school across the street. The sun is already streaming unfiltered through the windows, turning my apartment into a hothouse and forcing me to pull down my shades even during the spring. I can only imagine my electric bill this summer when I need to use my air conditioner. I will probably even miss the noisy insects that took up residence in that tree every July.

With the coming of spring, people in our area are starting to rebuild after losses to Hurricane Sandy much more serious than a tree. But sometimes in a disaster, it’s the small things that touch our hearts. I look down my street and see all the trees that survived the storm, some with broken limbs, but still popping with blooms. It gives me hope that sooner or later, a new tree will be growing in that empty patch of dirt and New York City will recover as it always does.

About the Author: Bonnie Bellow has been the Region 2 Director of Public Affairs since 1995, responsible for intergovernmental, media and international relations; community engagement; environmental education; Freedom of Information Act requests; social media and public information. She previously served as Public Affairs Director at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, ran her own media production business and worked as a radio reporter. Bonnie received her Bachelor of Science degree at Northwestern University in Chicago, but is a born and bred New Yorker who lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Sustainable Things to Do in NYC: Earth Day Special

In honor of Earth Day, we’re offering an extended list of events continuing through April 23 to help you celebrate the environment in our great city!

Earth Day Celebration at Grand Central: The annual event includes three days of interactive exhibits, sustainability talks, live music, and kids’ activities. Saturday, April 20-Monday April 22, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Earth Week at Queens Libraries: From a week-long green film festival to a wide range of eco-friendly crafts, Queens Libraries are getting into the spirit. Various locations and times.

Electronic Waste Recycling Day: The Lower East Side Ecology Center extends there collection of unwanted electronics to the Upper West Side. Drop off your old tech gear on Amsterdam Ave. between West 74-75th Streets. Sunday, April 21, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Family Volunteer Day: What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by helping to beautify Central Park? Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m. – noon.

Federal Agency Earth Day: Head across the street from EPA’s downtown offices for an afternoon of informational talks and displays from the EPA, FEMA, and Baruch College on topics of sustainability and emergency response. Tuesday, April 23, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

New York City Green Festival: The second annual green festival celebrates a wide variety of solutions to lead people to healthier lives and greener communities. Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, April 21, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

SAFE Disposal Event: The NYC Department of Sanitation is holding five SAFE Disposal Events this spring to provide a one-stop method to get rid of potentially harmful household products. Bring your hazardous household materials to Yankee Stadium on Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

St. George Day: An Earth Day festival that includes a celebration of dragons?! Head to Staten Island to find out what it’s all about. Saturday, April 20, noon-7 p.m.

Waking Up the Farm: Learn more about urban farming, enjoy a mid-afternoon healthy snack, and help with general farm work at Hattie Carthan Herban Farm in Brooklyn. Monday, April 22, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Worm Festival: South Brooklyn Children’s Garden is holding a worm festival for kids to learn about compost and why worms are beneficial for gardens. Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

20th Annual EarthFest Celebration: Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx hosts environmental exhibits, educational programming and children’s activities for this annual event. Sunday, April 21, noon – 3 p.m.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Upcoming Weekend Activities: NYC

Check out our top ecofriendly weekend recommendations and feel free to share your own in the comments section.

Electronic Waste Recycling: The Lower East Side Ecology Center is helping you clear old and unwanted electronics out of your closets without trashing the environment! Drop off your tech gear in front of Tekserve in Chelsea to have it responsibly recycled. Saturday, April 6, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Grow to Learn Grant Writing Workshop: Find out how to apply for a Grow to Learn mini grant and get started on designing a school garden. RSVP required. Saturday, April 6, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Music and Bronx Seaside Trolley: Head to the Bronx for First Fridays – an evening of music and exploration at the Bartow Pell Mansion. Free trolley rides make loops from the 6 train to the mansion. Friday, April 5, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

New York City of Trees Exhibit: Photographic portraits of trees from around the five boroughs bring viewers up close to some of the arboreal residents of the city. Arsenal Gallery of Central Park, Monday to Friday through April 26, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

SAFE Disposal Event: The NYC Department of Sanitation is holding five SAFE Disposal Events this spring to provide a one-stop method to get rid of potentially harmful household products. Bring your hazardous household materials to Prospect Park on Sunday, April 7, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Table Tennis Tournament: New York City Parks sponsors this annual event at the Greenbelt Recreation Center on Staten Island. Saturday and Sunday, April 6-7, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Tartan Day Parade: Take part in the largest Scottish outdoor event in Manhattan. The annual celebration of the historic links between Scotland and the U.S. takes place along 6th Avenue on Saturday, April 6.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Eco-friendly New York City Weekend Events

Finally this weekend we should get a taste of spring! Get out and celebrate with some of our suggestions for sustainable things to do in the NYC area.

The Art of Nesting: Come out to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to learn about animal architects and the ways they make homes from plant materials. Children will have a chance to try their own nest-making skills and can bring home a nesting bag for the birds on their block.  Friday, March 29, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Community Environmental Center EcoHouse: Explore this mobile environmental education exhibit at Inwood Hill Park. Friday, March 29, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, March 30, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Early Spring Bird Walk: Hike around the Jamaica Bay ponds and uplands to look for the first birds of spring. See ospreys, oystercatchers, ibis, great egrets, laughing gulls, and phoebes, to name a few. Saturday, March 30, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Exploring Clouds: Discover the different types of clouds and what they can tell us about upcoming weather patterns. Fort Trotten Park Visitor’s Center, Queens. Saturday, March 30, 1 p.m.

Herb Planting: Check out the Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park to see how their herb gardens are coming along. Plant your own pot of herbs to take home using newspaper, soil and seeds. March 29, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

SAFE Disposal Event: The NYC Department of Sanitation is holding five SAFE Disposal Events this spring to provide a one-stop method to get rid of potentially harmful household products. Bring your hazardous household materials to Citi Field on Saturday, March 30, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Spring Egg Hunt: Visit the Queens Botanical Garden for a family friendly spring egg hunt. Other activities include seed planting, face painting and a visit from Flora the Flower. Saturday, March 30, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Volunteer Meadow Shearing: Head uptown to Sherman Creek Park for a unique volunteer opportunity. Learn about preparing flower beds for spring and help cut back grass and wildflowers in the meadow to help the park get ready for the warmer season. Saturday, March 30, 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Spring Pigeon Roosting Season is Fast Approaching: Humane Ways to Minimize Pigeon Damage and Risks

By Marcia Anderson

Pigeons in NYCPigeons, pigeons, everywhere. They are an integral part of New York City living, as common as yellow cabs and street vendors. Getting rid of all the pigeons is unrealistic and on the positive side, these birds perform valuable services in removing food waste and/or eating harmful insects. But urban pigeon problems can range from excessive noise to large quantities of excrement deposited on sidewalks, cars, and buildings.

When they roost in an area, pigeons leave behind feathers and nesting material, fleas and bird mites, and of course, most of all, they leave lots of droppings. Pigeon droppings are not only unsightly, they are also highly caustic and can wear down stone, degrade marble statues and building materials, corrode metal and car paint, and potentially threaten structural integrity. For example, pigeon excrement on gas station canopies can clog downspouts leading to their collapse during rainfall. The droppings are also unsanitary; they are high in nitrogen, and can grow fungus or bacteria. People can inhale the fungal spores and contract the lung disease histoplasmosis. Pigeons also carry salmonella, cryptococcosis, and other diseases.

If pigeons are a nuisance on your building here are a few tips to try:

Exclusion: A variety of products are available to prevent birds from loafing on ledges.

  • Inspect for nests, and remove them every two weeks. Focus on keeping pigeons out of buildings and other spaces.
  • Screen all soffit vents and other potential entry points with rust-proof wire mesh.
  • Keep pigeons off ledges by covering them with a sloping piece of plastic or sheet metal. The bird slope is a humane method to discourage roosting of birds on buildings and ledges. As the name suggests, the triangular-shaped item made of heavy plastic attaches to gutters or ledges with the slope facing outward. The bird slope leaves birds without any way to roost or land on the building.
  • Nonelectric products include spikes, coils, and wires. They are easily installed and have a high rate of success. Bird spikes are placed on building ledges and gutters with the spikes spaced closely together leaving birds with no place to roost or land. They are made of heavy plastic, resemble toothpicks and work on flat or curved surfaces. This device is also a humane way to prevent roosting pigeons.
  • Electric products employ nonlethal electric pulses to discourage birds from roosting. These devices may be powered through plugging the charger into an electrical outlet or by solar panels that charge a battery.
  • Light Mylar streamers and raptor silhouettes move easily in the wind and temporarily scare off birds. However, pigeons can quickly grow accustomed to them.
Habitat Modification: The best way to control pigeon populations is through the removal of food, water and roosting sites.

Solutions that either don’t work or are potentially dangerous to non-target wildlife:

  • Loud noises are more likely to annoy neighbors than pigeons. City birds are used to city noises and don’t seem to startle easily.
  • Ultrasonic noises: ultrasonic sound waves bounce off objects, creating spots where pigeons can avoid the sound, plus they may damage the hearing of cats and dogs.
  • Pigeon poisons and chemical repellents are available, but they can kill or sicken other birds or animals.
  • Sticky repellents are not recommended. Other birds may come into contact with the repellent, which may impair their ability to fly or stay warm if the product comes into contact with their feathers.

About the Author: Marcia is the bed bug and vector management specialist for the Pesticides Program in Edison. She has a BS in Biology from Monmouth, second degree in Environmental Design-Landscape Architecture from Rutgers, Masters in Instruction and Curriculum from Kean, and is a PhD in Environmental Management candidate from Montclair – specializing in Integrated Pest Management and Environmental Communications. Prior to EPA, and concurrently, she has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology and Oceanography at Kean University for 14 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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New Life for the Bronx and Harlem Rivers

By Cyndy Kopitsky

EPA and the U.S. Department of the Interior have identified the Bronx and the Harlem Rivers as two priority areas in New York. As a result, exciting things are happening! But, first a little geography lesson.

The Bronx River, the only fresh water in New York City, is approximately 24 miles long and flows through southeast New York State.  The Harlem River is a navigable tidal strait in New York City that flows eight miles between the Hudson River and the East River.  The Harlem River is spanned by seven swing bridges, three lift bridges and four arch bridges.  The Harlem River forms a part of the Hudson estuary system, serving as a narrow strait that divides the island of Manhattan from the Bronx.

Three of the bridges that cross the Harlem River are: the High Bridge (a now-closed pedestrian bridge); the Alexander Hamilton Bridge (part of Interstate 95); and the Washington Bridge. In this photo, looking north, the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan is on the left and the Bronx is on the right.

Here’s where the fun comes in – in an effort to improve water quality, make public access safe and restore the watersheds and ecosystems, federal and local partners have initiated a number of projects.  I am always inspired to see when there is success in our “urban” community activities that manage to span from the Long Island Sound to the Delaware Estuary and across the east coast to the Caribbean, all contributing to the partnership.

One is the Bronx Youth Urban Forestry Empowerment program for low-income and minority youth which was created in partnership by “Trees of NY” and the USDA Forest Service. This project provides underserved youth from the Bronx sustained, hands-on education in tree care, tree identification, tree pit gardening, tree inventory and park land habitat restoration, outdoor recreational activities and two service learning projects.

The oyster population, once plentiful, has suffered a major decline due to pollution.  Improvement has been seen in the last 10 years although they remain unsafe to eat. Oysters play a major role in filtering and help to create a better habitat.  Many federal and local agencies are working in partnership to create an oyster reef, a better place for oysters to live.  I have a special interest in this type of project and I hope to be able to visit the area, not far from my home town.

The Park Service, the Harlem River Working Group and city and state agencies are working to develop a greenway along the Bronx side of the Harlem River and are planning to increase access which is currently limited along both rivers.

The EPA NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program is funding an effort to design plans for passage of migratory fish at two Bronx River dams and The Harlem River Working Group is planning a big event at Roberto Clemente State Park (RCSP) October 15th – 20th.  The main goal is to highlight the fact the RCSP is the ONLY point on the Bronx side of the Harlem River that has the immediate potential to provide boating access to the river.  The National Park Service will be providing a small amount of funding to help with programming the event and the State is on board to provide logistical support and host the event. The plan is to get 500 to 600 Bronx students out on the river Monday through Friday and then hold a community-wide celebration that Saturday.  Several of us have been invited to talk with the Park Service about ways to assure a large turn-out at this upcoming event.

All in all, lots of activity in support of these two important urban waterways. For more information, visit www.urbanwaters.gov.

About the Author: Cyndy Kopitsky is the Urban Waters Program Coordinator out of EPA’s office in Manhattan. In this capacity Cyndy works closely with the EPA Region 2 staff and managers to engage them in the Urban Water Program activities which include a grant program and the pilot projects. The pilot projects are often cooperative efforts with other federal agencies. Cyndy is a far commuter and resident of Cape May County in the southern most point of New Jersey. With her background in advertising and environmental education, working with communities for Cyndy is a “natural fit.”

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Asthma Awareness Month: Part II

By Elias Rodriguez

New York City is home to 8,391,881 people, if you go by the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Lately, I’ve blogged about asthma because May is Asthma Awareness Month and this chronic respiratory condition is especially tough when you live in a mega metropolis like New York City.

Living, working and playing in the Big Apple is wonderful, but our combination of people, pollution, cars, trucks and 24/7 activity makes for some poor air quality.

Pollutants in the outdoor air, including particulates (soot) and ozone (smog) are major asthma triggers. When ozone levels increase, most commonly in the summer months, they can affect people’s health, especially children with asthma. Ozone can irritate the respiratory system, causing coughing, throat irritation, and aggravating asthma. When ozone levels are high, more people with asthma have attacks that require a doctor’s attention or medication. Asthma triggers include pets, pesticides, cockroaches, dust mites, mold and secondhand smoke. Ozone makes people more sensitive to allergens, which are common triggers of asthma attacks and lead to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits.

Asthma hospitalization rates in NYC have been gradually declining since their peak in the mid-1990s. Yet, in some areas of the City, asthma rates can be found in the double digits.  It is insightful to look at asthma hospitalization rates because it is the most common cause of hospitalization for children 14 years and younger. In NYC, the asthma hospitalization rate per 1,000 (ages 0 to 14 years) is 9.2 in Bronx, 4.1 in Brooklyn, 4.0 in Manhattan, 3.9 in Queens, 2.0 in Staten Island and 5.0 for New York City. Hunts Point – Mott Haven in the Bronx has a rate of 11.5 and East Harlem in Manhattan has a rate of 11.2  Asthma is a leading cause of missed school among children and many New Yorkers suffer from poor control of their asthma.

In my next blog, I share how people who suffer from asthma can learn to control their symptoms and still maintain active lifestyles.

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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EPA’s New Climate Change Strategy: You can Have a Say

By Alyssa Arcaya and Alexandre Remnek

Alyssa: As the Water Program Coordinator, I work on making sure we’re implementing the water-related portion of EPA’s Strategic Plan in Region 2.  Through this work, I’ve learned how EPA translates its broad strategic goals into concrete actions that help protect human health and the environment.  Because of this, I was especially interested to read EPA’s new strategy for managing water resources in the face of climate change: the National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change.  The draft strategy considers the impacts of climate change on water resources and serves as a roadmap for EPA’s future activities by exploring actions that the Agency should take to create a “climate ready” national water program.  It also helps our regional office determine the steps we need to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation into our core programs and activities.

Alexi: While studying biogeochemistry at Cornell a decade ago, my work focused on watershed modeling. One of the challenges I faced was figuring out how to incorporate future environmental changes in our modeling and planning efforts.  Now, in my work as the Climate and Water Coordinator at EPA Region 2, I consider the ways that global climate change will impact EPA’s planning and regulatory work in our water programs.  Climate change has serious implications for water resources.  Warmer air and water temperatures can cause changes in precipitation patterns, increase evaporation and increase the frequency of more extreme weather events.  New York City is expected to receive more precipitation on average, some of which will reach us through more frequent storm events.  This means increased flooding, higher storm surge and erosion of beaches and coastal areas, which puts much of New York’s valuable infrastructure and development at risk.

The National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change presents key actions that can help New York City and the rest of the country understand and address the potential impacts of climate change on water resources.   The strategy addresses five core elements, including infrastructure, watersheds and wetlands, coastal and ocean waters, water quality and working with tribes to preserve and adapt their culture, natural resources and economies to climate change. More

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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My Journey to Mid-town Earth for Water (Part 2 of 2)

By Elias Rodriguez

New York City’s  Water Tunnel No. 3 has yet to supply one drop of drinking water to the population, nevertheless it is already a world renowned marvel of engineering and water infrastructure savvy. The project is MASSIVE. The water tunnel has already been featured documentaries, magazine spreads and even had a starring role in a Bruce Willis feature film. Guess which one?

As I descended into the darkness to take a tour of the cacophonous capital construction project, I marveled at the foresight it took on the part of elected officials to say YES to a gargantuan investment with little short-term gain, but with a payoff that will yield safe, clean drinking water for generations of thirsty New York residents and visitors.  Through six mayors and $6 billion the public works project inexorably presses on.

Clickety, Clank, Clickety, Clank, went the tiny hoist that took us down to the work area hundreds of feet below. In the darkness, I made a quick mental inventory of my life insurance policy. Sweating under a hard hat, my first impression was how damp and muddy things were. Maybe as a Lord of the Rings fan I was expecting Persian rugs and tea? We met tunnel workers or sand hogs as they are proudly known, avoided getting run over by work trains and learned about metamorphic rock. One caveat is that down under one cannot escape the endless supply of tunnel humor. When is a boring adventure not boring? Did you hear the one about schist rock?  My spelunking sojourn was exciting, educational and eerie. The City has its own slideshow here. More

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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