NYC’S OUTDATED INFRASTRUCTURE
One of the most challenging parts of performing subsurface excavation work in the city of New York is occasionally having to deal with the outdated infrastructure and records. Recently, one of our expert water main crews encountered such an issue while working in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park.
LOCATING THE WATER MAIN TAP
The first issue our crew encountered on site was locating the tap. The only way to stop an active water service leak is at the city tap, so this is typically the first thing our crews do upon arrival. We use electronic tracers in conjunction with DEP tapping records in order to locate the tap. Unfortunately, the city water main on the block was so old that the DEP was unable to provide any information. This is never a good sign.
Our workers finally located the tap, which astonishingly enough was in front of the next door neighbor’s house, almost 25′ away from the property!! If that wasn’t enough, our crew dug down to the tap only to discover that it was an old “driven” tap which had begun leaking. These type of connections have not been in use in New York City since the 1920’s.
WHAT IS A DRIVEN TAP
Prior to the advent of modern tapping devices, the only way to install tap connections was to do it by manually driving the tap into the main with a hammer. These are extremely volatile and should be handled with extreme care. If these taps are touched, they can be knocked out of the city main causing a geyser of water to erupt in the middle of the street.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Upon discovering a “driven” tap we are obligated to immediately notify the DEP and schedule a new wet tap installation at a later date with the NYC DEP. At this point our crew will secure the “driven” tap as best as possible and back-fill or plate the tap hole. The reader should be aware that this is a very unique circumstance and in fact 99 times out of 100 your city tap connection has been updated and is in good condition but it goes to show that you never really know what may happen once you start digging under the streets of New York