FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE02-18
Contact: Geoff Ryan
York City Watershed Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Enrolls 1000
Acres Of Stream Buffers To Protect Drinking Water Quality
Commissioner Christopher O. Ward of the New York City Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) announced today that the New York City Watershed Conservation
Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) had recently passed the 1000-acre mark
in enrolled riparian buffer land.
"We are extremely pleased with the progress of CREP in protecting New
York City drinking water quality," said Commissioner Ward. "One
thousand acres of riparian lands enrolled in CREP translates into 300 miles
of well buffered streams feeding into the City's water supply reservoirs.
In addition, through CREP and our Watershed Agricultural Program, we have
empowered hundreds of farmers to become first line protectors of the watershed.
New York City very much appreciates the commitment of the US Department of
Agriculture to helping us in this vital task, especially the many hard working
technical and administrative staff at State and local Farm Services Agency
and Natural Resources Conservation Service offices."
Under a 1998 agreement between New York City and the United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA), USDA offers farmers in the City's Catskill and Delaware
watersheds enhanced rental payments to remove environmentally sensitive riparian
lands from production for fifteen years. USDA and the City then split the
costs of installing conservation practices, such as tree and shrub plantings
and cattle fencing, on the enrolled lands. The goals of the New York City
Watershed CREP are to reduce the amount of silt, sedimentation, nutrients
and waterborne pathogens from entering the tributaries and reservoirs of the
City's Catskill and Delaware reservoir systems, as well as promote the continued
health and viability of natural habitats and ecosystems in the watersheds.
"The New York City CREP has been a huge success, both environmentally
and economically," said Farm Service Agency State Director Ron Robbins.
"Buffers have reduced soil erosion and prevented nutrients from reaching
the creeks, while fencing has removed animals from the water. Meanwhile, CREP
has paid out over $1.5 million into Delaware County and other watershed county
economies. Taxpayers, farmers, contractors, and small businesses have all
benefited from one of the most important conservation programs sponsored by
CREP is a major component of the larger New York City Watershed Agricultural
Program, which the City has supported since 1992. Administered in cooperation
with the local Watershed Agricultural Council, the Watershed Agricultural
Program provides technical and financial resources for over three hundred
farmers in the watersheds of the City's reservoirs to develop and implement
comprehensive pollution prevention plans. The primary intent of the program
is to protect and enhance the quality of New York City's drinking water supply
while also maintaining the economic viability of agriculture in the region.
Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) Executive Director Alan White said,
"CREP has helped our technical staff and participating farmers accelerate
the adoption of buffers throughout the watershed. CREP is a prime example
of a voluntary, incentive-based program that is effective in protecting New
York City's water supply. The partnership with USDA has allowed WAC to match
NYC DEP funding with federal funding to increase the conservation impacts
of our programs."