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April 4, 1998

Contact: Geoffrey Ryan, NYCDEP (718/595-5371)

DEP Commissioner Meets with Students at Third Annual Watershed Youth Summit

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) met on Saturday with students who participated in the third annual Watershed Youth Summit at the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, Ulster County. The Youth Summit is a year-long program that involves students from high schools in upstate watershed communities and from the five boroughs of New York City who explore and learn about the watershed and the water supply system. As part of the Youth Summit, students and teachers meet over three days in a program that includes ecology workshops, student presentations, small group discussions and tours of farms and DEP's water supply and wastewater treatment facilities.

Commissioner Miele met with the students at the City's Rondout Reservoir and addressed them at lunch at Frost Valley. He said, "Just a few years back, this summit would not have taken place, because there was a lack of confidence between our two communities. Water, a shared natural resource, had become an issue that threatened to divide upstate watershed communities and New York City residents into opposing camps.

"An open dialogue is always the best way to clear the air and dispel stereotypes and erroneous ideas, so both sides found a solution when they did what you're doing at this summit: they started talking to each other. Through frank discussions and extensive negotiations, both sides recognized that water was a shared resource that united both communities. So you see how the foundation for the watershed agreement was an open exchange of ideas much like the one your are having at this summit."

Commissioner Miele continued, " Finally, in January of last year, the United Sates Environmental Protection Agency, the State, the City and the watershed communities arrived at an historic agreement. The Watershed Memorandum of Agreement looks at water as a precious resource that offers new opportunities for both upstate and downstate communities. Under the terms of the agreement, upstate watershed communities preserve both their economy and their traditional rural character, while New York City is assured of a long-term solution to one of its most pressing quality-of-life issues: the safety of its drinking water."

In his closing remarks, Commissioner Miele stressed the importance of the Youth Summit in terms of the future. "While today my generation is busy implementing the watershed agreement, in a few years it will be your responsibility to ensure that upstate and downstate neighbors continue working together. We know that we're leaving the protection of this magnificent environment in excellent hands because you will be not only well informed environmentalists, but also something just as valuable: good friends. On a personal level, your lives will be richer for getting to know other young people whose lifestyles are different from your own. The friendships you make at this summit will ensure an ongoing dialogue between upstate and downstate communities and the future success of our combined community."

Participating schools in the watershed include: Gilboa-Conesville Central School, Hunter-Tannersville Junior/Senior High School, John F. Kennedy High School in Somers, Kingston High School, Margaretville Central School, Onteora High School in Boiceville, Rondout Valley High School, South Kortright School, Stamford Central School, Tri-Valley Central School in Grahamsville, and Walton High School.

Participating schools in New York City include: Beach Channel High School, Beacon School, Bronx High School of Science, High School for Environmental Studies, High School of World Cultures, Humanities Prep. School, John Dewey High School, La Salle Academy, and Thurgood Marshall School.

The Youth Summit is made possible by the dedicated teachers at these schools and also by the invaluable work of people on the planning committee, which is made up of representatives from the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Frost Valley YMCA, Cornell University Cooperative Extensions from Sullivan and Ulster Counties and New York City, Ulster County Environmental Management Council, the Catskill Forest Association, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Watershed Agricultural Council, the Natural Resource Conservation Council and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

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 supply, world-renowned for its high quality and excellent taste, is a 1,969 square-mile watershed containing three reservoir systems — the Catskill and Delaware systems in five rural counties of the Catskill Region and the Croton System in 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.


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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

(718) 595-6600