The Croton River (// KROH-tən) is a river in southern New York with three principal tributaries: the West Branch, Middle Branch, and East Branch. Their waters, all part of the New York City water supply system, join downstream from the Croton Falls Reservoir.[a] Together, their waters and the reservoirs linked to them represent the northern half of the New York City water system's Croton Watershed.
Shortly after the confluence of the three Croton River branches the Croton River proper, along with its tributary, the Muscoot River, flows into the Muscoot Reservoir, after which it empties into the New Croton Reservoir, which feeds the New Croton Aqueduct supplying water to New York City. Excess water leaves the spillway at the New Croton Dam and empties into the Hudson River at Croton-on-Hudson, New York at Croton Point, about 30 miles (50 km) north of New York City. The river has a watershed area of 361 square miles (930 km2).
Seeking to expand New York City's water supply, engineers of the city Aqueduct Commission designed in 1884 a 275-to-300-foot-high (84 to 91 m) masonry dam spanning the Croton River near its mouth. The resulting storage reservoir, impounding a 16-square-mile (41 km2) watershed, would hold 14.2 billion US gallons (54,000,000 m3) at full capacity. This dam, now known as the New Croton Dam, was completed in 1906. Further upstream, two tributaries of the Croton were dammed, creating the Croton Falls Reservoir, which was placed into service in 1911.
In the 1890s, rather than resorting to expensive filtration, New York City ordered the destruction or relocation of any village or hamlet threatening to pollute the Croton or its tributaries. Many were moved.
In the late 1990s, New York City stopped using water from the Croton as it became more and more unsuitable for drinking. In 2004, a project was started to rehabilitate the New Croton Aqueduct and build a filtration plant which is expected to come on line after 2015.
- As a result of dam construction, the waters of the Middle and West Branches mingle in Croton Falls Reservoir before exiting as a brief stretch of the West Branch alone, which joins the East Branch at the confluence of the Croton River proper.
- Map of the Croton Watershed, at New York City Department of Environmental Protection
- Institution of Civil Engineers (Great Britain) (1901). Minutes of proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. The Institution. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- NYC DEP Completes Rehab of 124 Year-old New Croton Aqueduct at tunnelingonline.com, Feb 25, 2014.
- Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers. American Society of Civil Engineers. 1912. p. 163. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
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