DEP Postpones Opening of Recreational Boating Season on Four Reservoirs in the Catskills

April 17, 2020

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that it will postpone the opening of its recreational boating season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The season was scheduled to open May 1. It will be postponed until at least Memorial Day weekend, May 23, and potentially longer depending on guidance from health experts and government leaders.

The recreational boating program allows the use of canoes and kayaks on four of New York City’s waters supply reservoirs in the Catskills – Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton and Schoharie. To protect water quality in the reservoirs, the recreational boating program relies on a small network of trained businesses who steam clean the boats before they are used each spring. Steam cleaning is critically important because it prevents the spread of invasive species that harm water quality and aquatic ecosystems. Many of the businesses that provide steam cleaning are now closed as part of the statewide effort to slow the spread of the virus. In addition, DEP is unable to inspect and provide annual training at those businesses at this time.

Fishing from rowboats with valid boat tags will continue to be permitted on DEP reservoirs, along with shoreline fishing. Unlike canoes and kayaks, which are removed from the reservoirs each fall, the vast majority of rowboats are stored year-round on lands alongside the reservoirs. DEP has also collaborated with its partners to install signs at popular trailheads to encourage social distancing on trails that traverse water supply lands.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of high-quality water each day to more than 9.6 million New Yorkers. This includes more than 70 upstate communities and institutions in Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties who consume an average of 110 million total gallons of drinking water daily from New York City’s water supply system. This water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and the system comprises 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and other professionals in the watershed. In addition to its $70 million payroll and $168.9 million in annual taxes paid in upstate counties, DEP has invested more than $1.7 billion in watershed protection programs—including partnership organizations such as the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Watershed Agricultural Council—that support sustainable farming practices, environmentally sensitive economic development, and local economic opportunity. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program with $20.1 billion in investments planned over the next decade that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.