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January 16, 2001

Contact: Geoff Ryan (718/595-6600)

Croton Watershed Management Strategy To Be Developed

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today the signing of a contract to develop a watershed management strategy for the reservoir basins of the City's Croton Water Supply System. The Croton System consists of 12 reservoirs and three controlled lakes in Putnam and Westchester Counties. Their watersheds, or basins, collect precipitation that drains to each of those water bodies. The overall watershed that supplies the Croton System has an area of 374 square miles, primarily in Putnam and Westchester Counties and includes small portions of southern Dutchess County and Connecticut.

"The purposes of the contract are two-fold," said Commissioner Miele. "The first is to identify and prioritize existing and potential sources of environmental impairment at the 'sub-basin scale,' that is, the dozens of individual basins that serve each of the system's reservoirs within the overall Croton watershed. The second is to develop management strategies that will address the sources of pollution."

The Project Team is headed by Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., with HydroQual and LimnoTech as sub-consultants. A panel of independent, academic experts will review the work at key points during the project, ensuring the scientific integrity of the final product. Members of the External Peer Review panel are:

  • Sean Ahearn (Hunter College, City University of New York)
  • Dr. Douglas Haith (Cornell University)
  • Eugene Driscoll (HydroQual)
  • Thomas Scheuler (Center for Watershed Protection)
  • Dr. Lenore Clesceri (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Under the contract, pertinent data will be collected from a variety of federal, state, county and municipal sources, including DEP's extensive data bases, and will be transformed into a Geographical Information System (GIS) format. (GIS formats involve overlay maps, each of which depicts one type of information, such as the population density, roads or water bodies of a particular area.) The data will be analyzed to assess water quality management needs and priorities for each of the reservoir basins. The results will be presented in a series of basin reports, as well as a final report that details an integrated watershed protection strategy for the entire Croton System.

The consultants will use all the information gathered, including the recommendations of the External Peer Reviewers, to estimate non-point phosphorous loadings and develop additional measurements for phosphorus, turbidity, pathogens and toxics at the sub-basin level. Analyses of specific sub-basin attributes will include population density, land use, proximity to streams, reservoirs and intake structures, as well as percentages of impervious cover, soil type and vegetative cover. Stormwater inputs will be a significant factor in classifying the sub-basins.

As part of the contract, the consultants will develop GIS-based management tools for the Department. This software will allow for more efficient use of available data, better integration of programs, and the ability to update the analyses as newer data becomes available.

"When the Croton Watershed Management Strategy contract is completed, DEP will have an integrated framework for the Croton System that will allow us to focus limited resources on critical areas and sub-basins to achieve maximum water quality benefits," said Commissioner Miele. "We will use this information to target land acquisition and other protection programs, and to focus special monitoring on high-risk sub-basins to identify new problem sites."

More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600