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July 14, 1999

Contact: Cathy DelliCarpini (718/595-6600)

DEP Gives Progress Report On Implementation Of The Watershed Memorandum Of Agreement

New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E. today gave a progress report on DEP's implementation of the Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The MOA's goal is to maintain and improve the integrity of the upstate Catskill/Delaware watersheds by incorporating and expanding long-range watershed protection and water quality improvement programs, and formalizing innovative partnerships between citizens, environmentalists and officials in the City and Upstate.

Commissioner Miele said, "This agreement remains a high priority for the Giuliani Administration. The MOA includes aggressive and innovative programs DEP has implemented to continually improve the quality of New York City's drinking water. I am proud of how the MOA, which became effective on January 21, 1997, has taken shape and look forward to seeing additional watershed protection and water quality improvements develop in the future."

This progress report is being issued midway through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) current 5-year Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) for the Catskill/Delaware watersheds. The current FAD is the latest in a series of waivers the City has received from USEPA of the federal requirement to filter water from its Catskill/Delaware supplies. The current 5-year FAD is effective through 2002 when the impact of the MOA on water quality protection will be assessed by State Health and the USEPA.

Programs in the City's watershed protection program include:

  • upgrading the nine City-owned upstate sewage treatment plants at a cost of $232 million;
  • rehabilitating and upgrading City-owned dams and water supply facilities at a cost of $240 million;
  • implementing the Watershed Agricultural Program at a cost of $40 million;
  • expanding the water quality monitoring program to include sampling from all 110 wastewater treatment plants in the watershed and increased sampling in reservoirs and other waterways; and
  • instituting an active waterborne disease surveillance program.

Commissioner Miele said, "New Yorkers are fortunate to have tap water of exceptional quality from a water supply that is considered to be among the finest in the nation. The MOA ensures the quality of the City's drinking water for generations to come."

DEP has developed the following program areas as part of MOA implementation:

  • Stronger Watershed Regulations — The MOA included the first revision of the City's watershed regulations since 1953. The regulations serve as the first defense against pollution, and dramatically strengthen the City's legal ability to protect water quality.
  • Land Acquisition and Stewardship — Under the MOA, the City is acquiring, through outright purchase or conservation easements, interests in undeveloped land near reservoirs, wetlands and watercourses, or land with other natural features that are water quality sensitive.
  • Partnership Programs — The MOA established several locally-based watershed protection initiatives, funded by the City, to build and support a strong working relationship between the City and its upstate neighbors — the day-to-day stewards of water quality.
  • Education and Outreach — Although not required by the MOA, DEP's Education and Outreach programs serve a range of constituencies, including watershed residents, interested citizens, technical professionals in stormwater, wetlands and stream corridor management, and local college students.

DEP is committed to ensuring the quality of New York City's drinking water. The successful implementation of the MOA will enable continued watershed and water quality protection for eight million people in New York City and an additional one million people living in Westchester, Putnam, Ulster and Orange Counties.

More information about DEP's watershed protection efforts and water quality can be found on our Web site at www.ci.nyc.ny.us/dep.


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