The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for June 3rd, 2013

anomalous heaviness

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Today’s post details an oft overlooked bit of DEP street furniture.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is a curse to be curious about  and notice everything, especially in a feature rich environment like New York City.

Ubiquitous street furniture such as Fireboxes and manhole covers endlessly fascinate, and something I’ve always been curious about is what might be going on inside the “N.Y.C. Drinking Water Sampling Stations” which adorn certain streets in nearly every neighborhood.


Water for the system is impounded in three upstate reservoir systems which include 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes with a total storage capacity of approximately 580 billion gallons. The three water collection systems were designed and built with various interconnections to increase flexibility by permitting exchange of water from one to another. This feature mitigates localized droughts and takes advantage of excess water in any of the three watersheds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every one who lives in Brooklyn or Queens has wondered about this, and I suspect those from the Bronx and Staten Island do too. Manhattan folks have other things to think about, and no time for such trivial matters.

Seriously, though, what’s with these things?

from wikipedia

To enhance water quality monitoring in a drinking water network sampling stations are installed along the route of a water network. Water sampling stations are connected to next water main and have a little sink. Water samples are analyzed for bacteria, chlorine levels, pH, inorganic and organic pollutants, turbidity, odor, and many other water quality indicators.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, while visiting everybody’s favorite sewer plant in Greenpoint, your humble narrator happened upon a display of one of these “Drinking Water Sampling Stations.”

Even luckier, it bore a card within it that carries a dry and fact based recitation on the objects, their purpose, and the practices and purpose of those who employ them. The information on the card was basically the same thing found at the link below, so rather than retype it… just click through if at all curious about how many of these units are installed and how they’re used.


The stations rise about 4 1/2 feet above the ground and are made of heavy cast iron. Inside, a 3/4 inch copper tube feeds water from a nearby water main into the station. Each station is equipped with a spigot from which water samples are taken. The total cost of the construction and installation of the stations was approximately 11 million dollars.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For you gear heads out there- check out page 137 of this product catalog from General Foundries, the company that manufactures these things as item NYCWSS1 for the City, for a schematic drawing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull– Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 3, 2013 at 12:15 am

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