The New York City Water Supply is the largest unfiltered water supply system in the world. Providing 1.3 billion gallons of water a day to City consumers, the system is fed by two watersheds generally referred to as the East of Hudson (Croton) watershed and the West of Hudson (Cat-Del) watershed. Covering over 2000 square miles of eight counties in upstate New York, the watershed, including its various reservoirs, aqueducts and associated facilities, has provided clean, unfiltered water to millions of people since the 1800’s.
The West of Hudson watershed lies within Schoharie, Greene, Sullivan, Ulster and Delaware Counties and provides 90% of the City water supply. Upon examination of the watershed geography, approximately 502,783 acres of Delaware County is located within the NYC watershed making it the largest contributor to the watershed or almost 54% of the total West of Hudson watershed.
In 1997 the Towns and Villages of Greene, Ulster, Sullivan, Schoharie and Delaware Counties, among others, entered into the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with New York City, which allowed NYC to purchase land within the West of Hudson watershed for the purposes of protecting NYC fresh water supply. In this agreement, NYC can acquire land in fee, Watershed Agricultural Council easements or Conservation easements within the watershed as a requirement of the initial and subsequent Filtration Avoidance Determinations issued by the USEPA.
Forecasting the economic impact of future watershed lands and easement acquisitions is problematic given the varying number and degrees of outside influences. One thing that is clear to county land planners and economic development officials is the need to understand the scope and depth of the land acquisition program. To that end, Watershed Affairs provides a monthly audit to the committee.