Integrated water quality-water supply modeling to support long-term planning

Last Modified: May 22, 2013


  • W. Joshua Weiss, Grantley W. Pyke, and William C. Becker - Hazen and Sawyer
  • Daniel P. Sheer - HydroLogics
  • Rakesh K. Gelda - Upstate Freshwater Institute
  • Paul V. Rush and Tina L. Johnstone - NYC DEP

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New York City’s unfiltered Catskill System of Reservoirs provides high-quality water to help meet demands for more than 9 million people. Following extreme storms, however, these reservoirs periodically experience high levels of turbidity that may require alum addition before the water enters the city’s distribution system.

A study was conducted to evaluate measures to control turbidity and reduce the need for alum treatment. The study involved development and application of a linked water supply-water quality modeling platform to simulate performance of structural and nonstructural turbidity control alternatives under realistic operations and over a broad array of hydrologic conditions.

Results indicated that modest improvements to the existing infrastructure and modified system operations could control turbidity and reduce the need for costly capital improvements. This study provides a useful framework for other utilities to follow in developing analytical tools to help them meet both current and future water supply challenges.

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