United States
        Environmental Protection
Office of Water (4501F)
Office of Wetlands,
 Oceans and Watersheds
August 1996
        New York City Watershed
".~we have put aside th
long between the downstute communities and their upstate
neighbors. This agreement does what many thought impos-
sible: it protects th$ L^OO^miare mile watershed from degrada-
tion while alttrwing upstate wmiftunitieS the ability to grow and
develop in an enviroumentallf responsible planner."
                 ~"-vernor Pataki, State of New York
                                 Catskill/Delaware Watershed Reservoir
                    Courtesy of New York Department of Environmental Protection

   Since 1991, the U.S. EPA has been promoting the watershed approach as a mechanism
   to achieve the next generation of water protection.  The focus on watersheds, or drain-
   age areas, provides people living there a meaningful context in which to identify prob-
   lems and solutions. Below is a description of the New York City Watershed agreement
   where the watershed approach is making a difference.

The system:
Nine million residents of New York City and
surrounding suburbs rely on a series of
reservoirs located many miles away in the
Catskill, Delaware and Crolon watersheds in
upstate New York as the source of their
drinking water. The first reservoir was
constructed in the 1870s and the last one was
built in 1967. The three watersheds cover
an area about the size of Delaware, and a
portion of eight counties, 60 towns,  and 11
incorporated villages.

The Catskill/Dclaware watersheds cover
approximately 1,600 square miles with a
population of around 77,000 year round.
There are approximately 350 farms  in the
Delaware and Catskill watersheds, a majority
of which are dairy.  EPA has issued  a filtra-
tion avoidance determination for these
watersheds, while the water from the Croton
must be filtered.

The stresses:
The main stresses to the system include phosphorus, microbial pathogens, and polluted
runoff. The primary sources of the pollution are wastewater discharges, and runoff from
urban and agricultural sources.
The strategy:
In 1991, EPA granted a conditional filtration waiver to the City of New York which was re-
issued in 1993. In an effort to comply with EPA's requirements and protect the city's water
supply and the rights of the residents in the upstate counties, the governor formed an ad hoc
committee to negotiate an agreement. A key issue was whether the city could work with the
upstate communities to avoid having to filter the Catskill/Delaware system - a costly proposi-
tion. In addition, there were controversies associated with the costs of complying with
regulations and how land would be acquired for protection. The committee was composed of

representatives from New York City, New York State, communities of the watershed, envi-
ronmental interests and the U.S. EPA, and employed a consensus-building approach to
negotiating an agreement.

An agreement was reached where EPA is expected to extend the city's filtration waiver to
December 1999.  In return, the city will take several actions including upgrading wastewater
treatment facilities and instituting rules and regulations in the watershed. The city will also
acquire land and support upstate/downstate partnership programs (water quality investment,
economic development fund, and a regional watershed partnership council).  The communi-
ties upstate will have the opportunity to sell property if they so choose. In addition, they will
participate in the regional watershed partnership council which will also be composed of
state, city, and downstate consumers.

                                       Watershed Agricultural Program Pilot Farm
      "I applaud the Governor for his extraordinary vision, and for bringing about
      this historic accord, which many believed could never be accomplished. His
      leadership helped forge this deaL.He has helped all of us find common
      ground as citizens of one state and as people sharing the same environment."
                                             New York City Mayor Guliani

Measures of Success:

The agreement is a success in that it moves the city and state beyond the controversy in
which it was embroiled for so many years toward goals and solutions under which all parties
could unite. Because of the agreement, regulations will be issued, land critical to the health
of the watersheds will be purchased, and wastewater treatment systems will be upgraded.  In
addition,  New York City's drinking water consumers will benefit from the cost savings of
avoiding filtration. For further information about the New York City Watershed Protection
Program,please call 718-595-5371.
                                                       Sewage Treatment

   "Because of the commitment of all those involved, we were able to come
   together and work toward a long and lasting partnership among
   Westchester, NY, and the entire watershed community."
                                  - Westchester County Executive Andrew O'Rourke
  EPA's Role

  EPA Region 2 was a key player in the negotiations among the New York City water-
  shed interests. EPA agreed to extend New York City's filtration avoidance determina-
  tion, allowing time to implement its strategy to prevent pollution and update treatment
  systems. For more information, contact EPA Region 2 at (212) 637-3724.

  Nationally, EPA has been reorienting its programs and developing tools to facilitate the
  watershed approach since 1991. For more information on the watershed approach,
  please contact the EPA at Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, 401 M Street,
  S.W. 4501F, Washington, DC 20460 (Attention: Watershed Outreach coordinator) or
  visit us on the world-wide web at URL:http://www.epa.gov/OW/OWOW.