New York City Watershed
New York City consumes approximately 1.3 billion gallons per day of pure water as tasteful as any sold in bottles. It travels to the City from as far away as 130 miles and several thousand feet above sea-level from pristine mountain reservoirs created in the last 100 years. It travels through granite mountains and arrives in NYC, 800 feet below sea-level, without pumps or filtration pure and close to perfect. How to keep this precious, irreplaceable, legacy for the future generations? Protect it!
New York City, US EPA and the Coalition of Watershed Towns have signed an agreement to work together to avoid water filtration of New York Citys Catskill-Delaware water system.
The principle points of the agreement are:
Up to 120,000 acres of water-sensitive land will be purchased by the City from "willing" sellers from 355,000 "eligible" acres. A minimum of $250 million will be spent with more if needed. Acquisition will begin in 1996 and be complete by 2003. NYC will also buy $10 million of land in the Croton system.
NYC will institute a "local consultation program" in which towns and villages in the watershed will have review and advise the City. NYC will provide up to $20,000 to each village and $10,000 to each town to hire consultants.
NYC has agreed to pay assessed taxes to the watershed communities which had been in litigation.
New regulations will be promulgated to assure purity of water. They will include control of wastewater treatment plants, sewage systems, subsurface sewage treatment systems, stormwater and impervious surfaces, solid waste, hazardous substances, hazardous waste and petroleum storage, fertilizers and highway maintenance materials.
Existing wastewater treatment plants with surface water discharges will be upgraded to use advanced treatment within 5 years. New wastewater treatment plants with surface water discharges will be prohibited from discharging into reservoirs or watercourses in certain sensitive areas including phosphorous restricted basins and coliform restricted basins and in areas within the 60 day time travel to the intake of the Citys waster supply distribution system. New or expanded wastewater treatment plants with surface water discharges will also be required to install advanced treatment technology. The City will enter into contractual agreements with the owners of all existing wastewater treatment plants and new public wastewater treatment plants to provide for the payment of incremental capital and operational and maintenance costs caused solely by the Watershed regulations.
To reduce phosphorus load in the Watershed a limited number of new wastewater treatment plants with surface water discharges may be permitted on a trial basis provided there is a 3 for 1 phosphorus off-set. In addition such plants will be required to install advanced treatment technology including microfiltration or an approved equivalent and achieve phosphorus discharge limits of 0.2 parts per million. West of the Hudson there may be up to three new (additional) pilot plants in each phosphorus restricted basin with a combined total flow of 100,000 gallons per day. East of the Hudson there may be combined total of three plants in Putnam Cnty with a combined total flow of 150,000 gallons per day in municipalities which commit to participate in the plan.
At this time, standards for plant effluent and design are still being developed but I can give you a sense of the current government thinking.
Phosphorus emissions are of paramount concern. Effluent limitations for wastewater treatment facilities at the following flow rates are:
a) 1.0 mg/L up to 50,000 gal/day
b) 0.5 mg/L for 50,000 gal/day to 500,000 gal/day
c) 0.2 mg/L for greater than 500,000 gal/day
Federal EPA is requesting microfiltration (or, possibly, equivalent, still unresolved). The NYC DEP would like to permit sand filtration and wants option of other alternatives.
Magnitude of reduction of viruses required to be 3 log (I guess that means 1/1000th of ambient levels).
Subsurface discharge required in area within the 60 days travel time and within the phosphorus reduction basin.
Apparently both prescribed technology and effluent limitation or a mix of both will be required. Standards are still being developed and now would be the appropriate time to offer the NYC DEP informed comments.
Discharges of treated wastewater to intermittent streams will comply with the most stringent effluent limitations contained in State guidelines; all discharges to wetlands, other than stormwater discharges, will be prohibited.
Stormwater discharges will meet Best Management Practices.
Construction of new impervious surface within 300 feet of a reservoir, or within 100 feet of a watercourse or wetland is prohibited except West of Hudson in an area currently zoned commercial or industrial if the City grants a permit.
No construction of new roads within 300 feet of a reservoir, 100 feet of a perennial stream and 50 feet of an intermittent stream unless necessary for access to a subdivision.
No new homes, within 100 feet of a DEC mapped stream or wetland unless it meets Best Management Practices.
Subsurface sewage treatment must be setback 100 feet from watercourse or wetland and 300 feet from reservoir.
With some NYC permitted exceptions no hazardous substance storage tanks within 250 feet of a watercourse or wetland and 500 feet of a reservoir. Insurance will be requested of any owners of underground storage tanks within 1000 feet of a reservoir or watercourse. Petroleum tanks are prohibited within 25 feet of watercourse or wetland and 300 feet of reservoir.
A working group has been formed to deal with fertilizer and pesticide run-off.
NYC will invest about $167 million of over 15 years to fund infrastructure improvements to the watershed communities and $76 million to fund an economic development study and establish a grant with revolving fund to encourage sound development and job growth. East of the Hudson the City will also invest about $79 million over 15 years to fund improvements to the watershed to divert wastewater, upgrade wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, stormwater runoff, etc. The City will also grand abut $15 million in "good neighbor" payments for professional services to help develop these programs and $37 million to foster watershed partnerships for public relations, operator training, tourism, permitting assistance etc.
A Watershed Partnership Council will be created to review and assess watershed protection efforts. It will serve as a forum to resolve disputes.
All parties will work together to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load for the watershed.
Within 5 years a Croton Watershed Protection Plan will be prepared by the City.
An independent monitoring advisor will be retained to review the Citys and States current watershed monitoring program.
There will be stepped-up enforcement.
link to New York State Watershed Partnership Council