Officials with the city had been preparing for the drill's arrival since earlier this year when work crews began blasting through granite at Bellwood to make an opening for the 400-foot device.
“The reinvention of this quarry as a reservoir and as a surrounding park is one of the most creative land reclamation projects going on in the city of Atlanta,” Mayor Kasim Reed said at the ceremony.
“Driller Mike” will create a five-mile tunnel for the $300 million project, with will connect the former Bellwood Quarry, the Chattahoochee River and the Hemphill Water Treatment Plant. The work, which will create the deepest tunnel in the state, is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.
The reservoir will hold about 2.4 billion gallons of drinking water, enough to provide sustain 1.2 million people for a month. The city only has a three-day supply of drinking water right now.
Kishia L. Powell, the city’s recently appointed commissioner of the department of watershed management, said the reservoir would have the capacity of the Georgia Aquarium on steroids.
“The Georgia Aquarium not far from her holds approximately 10 million gallons of water,” she said. “When we complete this project, we will be able to fill the Georgia Aquarium 24 times.”
To connect the project to residents, the city launched a campaign to name the drill earlier this year. More than 700 online names were submitted, including finalists “Driller Mike,” “Peach Beast” and “Scarlett.”