City Draining Central Park Reservoir and Detouring Runners


The Reservoir is already lower than usual. Photo by Robyn Roth-Moise.

If the reservoir in Central Park looks a little shallower than usual these days, it’s no optical illusion. The city is draining eight feet of water as part of a larger project to upgrade the water valves.

The city will also be blocking off a portion of the reservoir on the West side of the oval near 95th Street, forcing runners to detour onto the nearby bridle path. The reservoir, known as the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, stretches from 86th to 96th Street. The work is expected to start in April, and the water will be restored to its prior level by August.

The reservoir no longer supplies the city’s drinking water.

Correction: we initially reported incorrectly that the running path would be diverted near 85th Street.

NEWS | 22 comments | permalink
    1. Sid says:

      Where is the water draining to? And does it serve any function anymore?

    2. Rich says:

      Serious question – what do they do with all the fish and turtles that make their home in the reservoir?

    3. Dan S says:

      The Central Park Reservoir feeds the water that flows into the Pool (the pond on the west side near 102nd). This feeds the Loch, which in turn feeds the Harlem Meer. The Reservoir is 45 feet deep. Draining off 8 feet should leave plenty of water for the fish and turtles, but it may have some impact on the supply to the Pool. Time will tell.

      The work is being done in the North Gate House which is at about 95th Street. The area of the running path that will be temporarily closed is likely there, not 85th Street as the story suggests.

    4. Oona says:

      Since the reservoir no longer provides drinking water why can’t it open as a natural public swimming place (for a limited number at any one time) ofresponsible adults? It’s a perfect site for Open Water swimming.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        Nothing personal but this may be the worst idea I have ever heard.:)

        Could you imagine the logistics and liabilities involved in this? Oy! Now I would vote to fill it up with fish and let people go there to catch their dinner and take their kids fishing, etc.

        Actually, all of this is an awful idea. Just let the runners have it. It’s bad enough we have to deal with all the tourists now on the Reservoir path (walking the wrong way, taking pictures, etc.) and the constant closures for, well, things like this. They just closed it to redo the paths maybe like 2 yrs ago.

        Anyway, it’s one of the last safe spots for runners these days. The loop has cars and bikes whipping around. The Greenway in Riverside is the worst…crowded, dangerous, concrete, etc….nice views though.

        Just my two cents.

      • Ira Gershenhorn says:

        YES! A 1000 foot long bathing beach will leave much square footage to the ducks. It will require moving the running path in that area. Enough freaking eye candy!

      • B.B. says:

        For same reasons people are warned off swimming in the reservoir now; it is basically a large deep container with no slope to the walls. Once you are in, you are *in*.

        Many have taken a *dip* in the reservoir only to find for various reasons they aren’t able to swim or whatever as planned. Sadly once you get away from the sides there isn’t anything to place your feet upon or grab like a pool. Unless you are able to swim back to the edge (and haul your body out of the water), you can and likely will drown.

    5. robert quinlan says:

      While they are at it,
      the flotsam and jetsam appearing along the shores and on the exposed banks should be removed or it will be there forever, especialliy the plastics.

    6. drg says:

      I hope the parks department is providing shuttle canoe service for the wildlife, for the duration of the displacement.

    7. Wendy says:

      Wonder what a friend shall do re taht running path. AAgh, that movie w/Dustin Hoffman & [Sir] “Larry” Olivier , [spelled correctly , ?] ; aagh – the torture scene. Are the Trees near that reservoir, survivors of Frankenstorm ? Use wisely, our drinking water. Do equestrien/nes use the Bridle Path ? Remember the photo of Charlton Heston thereby/in, ? Shaloha.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        Oh, Marathon Man. Just rewatched this the other day. Such a classic. Dustin Hoffman AND Olivier in the same movie. Just brilliant. Soooo NYC…those scenes around the reservoir, the “road rage” accident in the opening scene (looks like E. 79th St. to me)

        And to quote another great NYC movie…re: Wendy…”I’ll have what she’s having”..:)

        • B.B. says:

          My dentist was actually in school when Marathon Man was first released. We spend most of my appointments shooting back one liners/quotes from the film.

    8. wombatnyc says:

      Forget the wildlife , what about the Runners ?

    9. Steve-O says:

      Maybe they’ll finally find Szell’s diamonds.

      • B.B. says:

        Quite a few films of the 1970’s shot in NYC took advantage of UWS and other areas having a good population of *camp* survivors.

        Szell walking down that Diamond District street with his suitcase full of diamonds only to be spotted by a woman who recognizes who he is and begins shouting his name in English and Yiddish is chilling. At first you’d think someone anyone would know what she’s going on about, and clearly Szell is worried that someone will. But no, the tension builds and only ends when the poor woman is hit by car and Szell (again) escapes justice.

    10. George says:

      Why is the fountain not operating? Is it related to the draining? And if draining has begun, why are the fountain nozzles still on the water surface. Surely they don’t float.

    11. Christine says:

      Can we be good global citizens (notwithstanding the orange cheeto moron at 1600 Penn or whatever is the golf course du jour) and ship this water to Cape Town?