Keeping the water flowing

Rehabilitation of 100 year-old tunnel to secure water supplies

In upstate New York, USA, the City of Rome is mitigating the risks of water shortages and securing the water supply for the next century by refurbishing its existing water supply tunnel, originally hand-cut in shale more than 100 years ago.

The 1.6 km (1 mile) long tunnel running at depths between 6 m (20 feet) and 37 m (120 feet) is the sole raw water supply for the City of Rome.

GHD's unique tunnelling capabilities are helping evaluate the condition of the tunnel and design a new structural lining, which will consist of multiple layers of shotcrete applied robotically to the walls of the tunnel.

Robert Samuels, Maintenance Supervisor for the City of Rome says, "Rehabilitating the City's only raw water transmission tunnel without disrupting our water supply is a major challenge.

"GHD has certainly been up to the challenge in leaving no stone unturned to finding the best solution to our problem and truly taking into consideration the financial impact this project will have on our taxpayers."

In an example of working seamlessly irrespective of geographical borders, the GHD project team comprised of people from our US (Cazenovia) and Australian (Melbourne) offices.

As the tunnel was determined to be unsafe to enter, GHD collected videos, sonar profiles, and laser scans using remotely operated vehicles. The team also carried out geotechnical field investigations.

To keep the town supplied during the refurbishment, GHD is designing a temporary pipeline and pumping system that will bypass the tunnel. Rome residents will also apply water conservation measures during the work.

In addition, the project includes relining the dam that supplies the tunnel.

Kevin Castro, GHD's Project Director, says, "Rome has relied on this tunnel for more than 100 years.

Upon completion, the City is expecting another 100 years of service.

"With the latest technology and design, we plan to eliminate the need to physically enter the tunnel for future inspection and maintenance, and the City is saving considerable expense in not having to construct a new tunnel."

For more information, contact Kevin Castro on +1 315 679 5735 or email