New York City’s subway system has a water problem- a 13 million gallon one

Posted On Tue, February 13, 2018 By

Posted On Tue, February 13, 2018 By In Transportation

Workers pumping seawater out of the L-train tunnel after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, photo courtesy of the MTA on Flickr

The subway’s crippling, century-old infrastructure is not the only reason behind the system’s constant delays and disruptions. The other problem involves about 13 million gallons of water, or more depending on the rainfall, that gets pumped out from underground on a nearly daily basis. A perpetual hazard, water can drip onto electrified equipment, cause a short and create chaos, as the New York Times reported. After ineffectively using only sandbags and plywood to fight flooding in the past, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has turned to more high-tech solutions, like flood-proof doors and inflatable gaskets, which will be a part of its $800 million emergency action plan to fix the subway.

MTA, hurricane sandy, mta repairs
MTA installing flood-proof doors last year; photo courtesy of the MTA on Flickr

According to the MTA, its drainage system can pump out 1.5 inches of rain per hour and includes 289 sump pump rooms along the tracks that move any excess water into the sewer system. If there is significant rainfall, the sewer system gets overpowered and pours a torrent of water into the subway.

Last fall, the MTA unveiled custom doors designed to protect the subway from flooding, five years after Hurricane Sandy crippled areas of the city with massive surges of water. The authority has started to install 3,000-pound marine doors, equipped with inflatable gaskets to seal out water, at the bottom of subway’s stairwell. Some stations will get metal hatch doors below street subway grates, fabric curtains to block flowing water and a system of interlocking stop logs at various entrances.

Grouters are sent out every night to patch up leaks, prioritizing those dripping next to any electrical equipment. Since the summer, 750 leaks have been filled and more than 5,400 drain boxes have been cleaned. Plus, 17,000 out of the subway’s 40,000 grates have been cleaned by the MTA.

[Via NY Times]

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