For the first time in three years, the Jerome Park Reservoir has a significant amount of water in it.
The reservoir was drained in 2008 when off-site construction for the Croton Water Filtration Plant reached the reservoir. The Croton plant is in its final stages of construction in Van Cortlandt Park and when complete, will supply New York City with between 10 and 30 percent of its drinking water.
But residents, many of whom have referred to the reservoir as their lake, will have to wait more than a year until the water is permanent.
Construction manager Bernard Daly announced at a Croton Facility Monitoring Committee meeting last month that some water would find its way into the south basin of the reservoir through February. The DEP is working on the Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility in Westchester for the Catskill-Delaware Aqueduct, which usually supplies the city with as much as 40 percent of its drinking water.
The DEP will shut down the Catskill Aqueduct for most of January, leaving Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and Briarcliff Manor without their normal water source. These towns will use the New Croton Aqueduct instead.
To ensure the water can get to the towns, the DEP is flushing it through the system, and emptying it into the Jerome Park Reservoir. From there, the water will be slowly drained into the city’s sewer system on dry days.
The DEP will begin testing the filtration plant in October, but the plant — the cost of which has ballooned from less than $1 million to $3.4 billion since construction began in 2004 — will not be fully operational until March 2013. The reservoir will be filled back in after that.
“It’s nice for the water to be there. Too bad they couldn’t keep it full for the longest time,” said Karen Argenti, a longtime critic of the Croton Water Filtration Plant.
Residents do not know if they will have greater access to the reservoir once water is permanently back in. Two security fences currently surround it.
Community leaders and politicians, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., have called for more public access to the reservoir. DEP officials have been less than enthusiastic about that idea, agreeing only to a three-day pilot program in 2013, when the public would be allowed inside the fences.