Driller Mike was chosen for the massive 400-foot-long tunnel-boring machine that will eventually enable Atlanta to store a month’s supply of water underground, city officials announced Wednesday. Also-rans among more than 700 online submissions included The Peach Beast and Scarlett.
“Before I die, I want a street named after me, maybe Michael Render Way,” said the Atlanta-based rapper, a huge supporter of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “But this is a great midlife goal. This is truly an honor.”
Killer Mike, who won a Grammy in 2003 for the song “The Whole World,” said he was more than amused when he first heard the name Driller Mike.
“I laughed hysterically,” he said. “It was the funniest thing in the world to me. I didn’t take it seriously, because I’m a rapper. Cities don’t associate themselves with rappers. But I’m a business owner, a dad, an active member of politics in Atlanta, so I was honestly honored that people in Atlanta saw fit to name something after me.”
The $11.6 million machine will dig a five-mile tunnel starting from a 350-foot deep reservoir, holding 2.4 billion gallons of water under downtown Atlanta. That should expand the city’s current three-day water supply to 30 days and ensure access to clean, safe water for the next 100 years, Watershed Management of Atlanta officials said.
The $300 million Water Supply Program is expected to be finished in December 2018. The tunnel will connect the former Bellwood Quarry to the Chattahoochee River and Hemphill Water Treatment Plant.
Mayor Kasim Reed said the project is a “no brainer.” He said if Atlanta somehow lost its drinking water supply for a single day, the economic cost would approach $100 million.
Reed said the quarry will become a reservoir in what will be the city’s largest park.
“We’re reclaiming an abandoned infrastructure asset and putting it to renewed use,” he said. “That’s the kind of development and forward thought we were interested in the city of Atlanta. That’s why we made this $300 million investment.”