Highlights of the Watershed Protection Program
Since the program’s inception in 1991, New York City has invested more than $1.5 billion
to ensure the long-term protection of its extraordinary water supply.
Achieving such an extensive network of watershed safeguards would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of other interested parties. Although the City was initially hesitant to delegate control of certain programs to upstate partners, what has evolved is a thriving collaboration
among City, state, and federal agencies, as well as watershed governments and residents, working together to protect the waters of the Catskill and Delaware watersheds while supporting the economic vitality of the region.
Key elements of the program, including major progress made since the last FAD, include:
Land Acquisition. When the Land Acquisition Program began 15 years ago, New York City
owned just 3.5% of the land in the Catskill/Delaware watershed. Today, including conservation
easements (CEs), that proportion has jumped to 15%.
Waterfowl Management Program. The management of waterbird populations at terminal and distribution reservoirs in the New York City water supply system is an integral part of DEP’s continued ability to meet the Surface Water Treatment Rule’s (SWTR) standards.
Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Upgrades. By 2002, DEP had completed, at a cost of
$240 million, upgrades of six City-owned wastewater treatment facilities that together account
for 40% of the WWTP flow in the West of Hudson watershed, using technologies that include
phosphorus removal, sand filtration, back-up power, back-up disinfection, microfiltration or an
approved equivalent, flow metering, and alarm telemetering.
Stream Management. The primary goal of the Stream Management Program (SMP) is to preserve
and/or restore sustainable levels of stream system stability and ecological integrity by
encouraging and supporting the long-term stewardship of streams and floodplains.
Wastewater Infrastructure Programs. The MOA New Infrastructure Program (NIP) anticipated
that DEP would fund new WWTPs in seven communities.
Managing Use of City-owned Lands. As noted below, DEP has taken significant steps
towards increasing the acreage of its lands available to the public. DEP welcomes the opportunity
to share its water supply lands with the public so long as that can be achieved with no
adverse impacts to water quality.
Watershed Agricultural Program. In the early 1990s, the City proposed extensive regulation
of farms within the watershed. The farming community expressed concern that further regulation
would drive farms out of business, leaving farmlands vacant and available for development.
Watershed Partnership Programs. In addition to the programs already mentioned, the City
and its partners continue to broaden their efforts to improve the environmental infrastructure of
the watershed as well as stimulate the local economy.