FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE97-51
November 7, 1997
Contact: Geoffrey Ryan (718/595-5371)
EPA Awards Grant to City For Wetlands Study
Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the Department has been awarded a Wetlands Protection Grant by the Region 2 office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The grant will fund part of a pilot study, known as a Wetland Functional Assessment, in the basins of New York City's West Branch and Boyds Corner reservoirs. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct the study for DEP.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service is uniquely qualified to undertake this study," said Commissioner Miele. "The Service has already completed a National Wetlands Inventory of the City's entire watershed, and its staff is familiar with the locations and natures of wetlands in these basins. The study will provide important information on the values of wetlands in this area and will guide us in our efforts to protect them."
The Wetland Functional Assessment will classify all wetlands in the West Branch-Boyds Corner basins according to their landscape position, land form and water-flow path. This analysis will determine how wetlands in these basins individually and cumulatively perform various functions including water quality protection, flood storage, sediment entrainment, and the absorption and release of nutrients and other pollutants. DEP will use the data provided to direct development of wetland protection strategies and non-point source programs and as an aid in analyzing development proposals requiring permits from DEP.
Additionally, the study fulfills a portion of the Wetlands Protection Strategy required by EPA in the Filtration Avoidance Determination it granted to the City's Catskill and Delaware Water Supply Systems in April 1997. Although the Boyds Corner and West Branch Reservoirs are in Putnam County, east of the Hudson River, they are connected via the Delaware Aqueduct to the Delaware System, which has its principal reservoirs in Delaware, Sullivan and Ulster Counties, west of the Hudson.
"Because they are functionally part of the Delaware System, it is critically important to maintain high standards of water quality in the Boyds Corner and West Branch Reservoirs," said Commissioner Miele. "Scientific analyses over the years suggest that watershed wetlands are vital ingredients in water quality protection programs."
USFWS will begin the study this winter. A report on the preliminary assessment of wetland functions for the two study basins will be completed by September 1998.
The New York City Water Supply System serves nearly eight million residents of the City and one million people who live in Westchester, Putnam, Orange and Ulster Counties. The source of this water, world-renowned for its high quality and excellent taste, is a 1,969-square-mile watershed in five rural counties of the Catskill Region and three suburban counties north of the City and east of the Hudson River. DEP is responsible for protecting and operating this surface water supply system, one of the largest in the world.