Land purchases protect New York’s watershed
In April, New York City purchased 178 acres in Yorktown, N.Y., as part of its effort to protect water quality in its watershed. The acquisition is one of many taking place in the city’s three water supply systems — Croton, Catskill and Delaware — under provisions of the 1997 Watershed Memorandum Agreement (WMA).
The WMA is a compact among local governments, state and federal agencies, and environmentalists to protect New York City’s watershed, which includes much of the Catskill Mountain region and portions of Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties. The agreement affects the city, as well as 73 towns/villages and seven counties.
To meet the goals of the WMA, New York City has committed more than $260 million for the purchase of land and conservation easements within the three main supply systems. To date, it has signed purchase agreements with more than 400 landowners for more than 30,000 acres of the watershed.
Situated within the Croton system, the Yorktown parcel abuts city-owned buffer land at the New Croton Reservoir and Westchester County’s 112-acre John E. Hand Park at Bald Mountain. “It drains directly into the New Croton Reservoir, where protection of the water quality is particularly important because water from 11 other reservoirs of the Croton system collects there before flowing into the city’s distribution system,” explains Joel Miele, commissioner for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
In 2002, the city will open the Yorktown site for hiking. It has opened other watershed protection properties, requiring DEP hiking and fishing permits.