In order to minimize adverse economic impacts to local communities and businesses as a result of meeting enhanced watershed protection requirements, DEP funds numerous programs that help to improve environmental infrastructure—especially stormwater management and wastewater treatment—while promoting and supporting environmentally sound economic development throughout the watershed region.
East-of-Hudson Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System
Our East of Hudson (EOH) Watershed has a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). As a regulated MS4, the EOH Watershed is required to comply with the Phase II Storm Water Management Plan.
The Phase II Stormwater regulations require the EOH Watershed to implement programs and practices to control stormwater runoff that may be polluted.
Stormwater from a rain event or melting snow can pick up and move sediment and a variety of pollutants. Because the stormwater transports whatever is left on our lawns and roads, individual actions make a difference in determining the kinds and amounts of pollution. For more information, visit Stormwater Management in the New York City Watershed.
In the EOH Watershed, the main pollutant of concern is phosphorus. For more phosphorus information, visit Understanding the Phosphorous Issue. You can learn more about pollution prevention practices by visiting the DEC website.
If you observe illegal dumping or discharges into any storm sewers, please call (914) 232-8642 or (845) 334-7185, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wastewater Treatment Plants in the Watershed
Within the New York City water supply watersheds on both sides of the Hudson River, there exists a total of 114 public and private wastewater treatment plants of varying age, size, capacity and condition. Some of these facilities are owned by local municipalities, many serve local camps, schools, hotels or restaurants, and still other facilities (six) are owned by New York City.
Specifically, 69 wastewater treatment plants are located in the East of Hudson Watershed while another 45 plants operate in the West of Hudson Watershed, including all six facilities owned by New York City (located in Tannersville, Grand Gorge, Margaretville, Pine Hill, Grahamsville and Chichester). The capacity of all these plants ranges from 1,100 gallons to 1.5 million gallons per day. Because many of these facilities release their treated effluent back into surface water, it is critical for water quality protection that all wastewater treatment plants are functioning to the highest possible treatment standard.
In collaboration with the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC), DEP funds a Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Program that includes two distinct components for existing non-City-owned wastewater treatment plants: (1) Regulatory Upgrades, and (2) SPDES (State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Upgrades. Upgrades of all six City-owned facilities proceeded on a separate track and were completed by 1999.
The Regulatory Upgrade Program helps non-City-owned wastewater treatment plants meet the higher treatment and compliance standards of the New York City Watershed Regulations that go beyond federal or State requirements. The SPDES Upgrade Program helps West of Hudson wastewater treatment plants meet the conditions of their respective SPDES permits.
The upgrading of wastewater treatment plants in the New York City Watershed has resulted in clear improvements in the quality of effluent being discharged into surface waters. DEP’s water quality sampling efforts have demonstrated significant improvements in oxygen levels along with reductions in total suspended solids, phosphorus, and fecal coliform bacteria levels.
The oldest and most populated communities in the Catskill/Delaware Watershed were generally built along streams in narrow valleys. These villages and hamlets have small-size lots—many on steep slopes—which make it problematic to install individual septic systems that meet current water quality standards. For these small communities, the costs of building and operating new sewage treatment plants are prohibitive.
The New Sewage Treatment Infrastructure Program provided up to $104 million in funding for the construction of new sewage treatment facilities. The Program has now been concluded. Projects were completed in the following watershed communities:
Sewer Extensions in the Watershed
The Sewer Extension Program provides central sewer service to properties in the vicinity of existing New York City-owned sewer systems whose septic systems are either failing or likely to fail. Since 1998, DEP has been working closely with the following communities in the West of Hudson Watershed to implement this program:
The projects in Neversink, Roxbury and Hunter: Haines Falls are complete. The remaining three projects in Shandaken, Middletown: Village of Margaretville, and Hunter: Showers Road are in the construction phase.
Community Wastewater Infrastructure in the Watershed
Most communities in the sparsely developed West of Hudson Watershed do not require centralized wastewater infrastructure because they rely on individual septic systems to treat and dispose of sanitary waste. However, a number of hamlets and villages—often older, historic centers located along narrow valley streams and characterized by smaller size lots—need alternate wastewater management options that lie somewhere between individual septic systems and a full-scale sewage treatment plant. Two potential options include community septic systems and septic maintenance districts.
DEP is providing over $82 million to the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) to administer the Community Wastewater Management Program that supports the design and construction of wastewater treatment projects in West of Hudson Watershed communities that may be experiencing water quality problems because of failing septic systems located near streams.
The communities potentially eligible for Community Wastewater Management Program funds include the following 15 villages and hamlets, listed below in priority order:
For additional information regarding program rules, project eligibility, and application forms, please contact the CWC at 845-586-1400 or visit www.cwconline.org.
Economic Development in the Watershed
New York City plays an important role in the economic well-being of the watershed by actively supporting a number of economic development initiatives. Since 1997, DEP has invested over $1.5 billion in watershed protection primarily in the form of environmental infrastructure improvements. Programs derived from the 1997 Watershed Agreement directly assist local governments, businesses, and individuals in a number of meaningful ways that include but are not limited to the following:
On a day-to-day basis, DEP staff actively participate on economic development program committees through the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) and Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC). DEP’s primary role on these committees is to ensure that proposed economic development activities do not adversely impact the City’s water supply and that City funds used for loans and grants meet all appropriate and necessary fiduciary standards.
Two important watershed committees include CWC’s Economic Development Committee and CWC’s Loan Committee. The CWC Loan Committee primarily oversees and handles requests for business loans. CWC staff meet with applicants and gather the information needed to develop and present loan recommendations, which are initially acted upon by the committee before passing to the full CWC Board of Directors (on which DEP also participates) for final review and adoption.
The CWC Economic Development Committee oversees the management of the Catskill Fund for the Future, which provides different types of loans to communities and businesses within the watershed. This committee also promotes broader economic development and tourism activities throughout the watershed by extending grants to municipal and not-for-profit groups to help fund community benefit projects such as e-business centers, new libraries, and marketing efforts that attract people and businesses to the Catskill region.
DEP also promotes tourism and economic development through its own watershed protection activities. Two key activities include opening up to the public more City-owned lands every year for recreation and initiating a recreational boating program on the Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton and Schoharie Reservoirs to expand opportunities for public use and enjoyment. DEP recently revised its recreational access rules to allow public access on many City-owned lands without a permit and this supplements all of the other watershed lands where the public is allowed to hunt, fish, and hike with a permit.
For additional information about economic development programs managed by DEP, please contact DEP Watershed Lands and Community Planning staff at 845-340-7700.
For additional information regarding the Catskill Fund for the Future, please contact the CWC at 845-586-1400 or visit www.cwconline.org.
For additional information about recreational opportunities on City-owned lands, please contact 1-800-575-LAND or email email@example.com.
Stream Management Planning & Training in the Watershed
DEP and its partners at county Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Cornell Cooperative Extension work closely with local towns in the Catskill/Delaware Watershed to develop management plans for the streams that feed the City’s water supply reservoirs.
Stream management plans provide comprehensive recommendations for managing streams and floodplains to achieve multiple objectives such as erosion and flood hazard mitigation, fish habitat improvement, public recreation, and water quality protection. By 2011, stream management plans will have been completed for all six reservoir basins in all West of Hudson Watershed.
In those reservoir basins where stream management plans have been developed and completed, communities have adopted these plans by resolution which in turn makes them eligible for City funding to implement each plan’s recommendations. For more information, see Catskill Streams – Funding Opportunities. Locally-based watershed advisory committees are being formed in a number of stream management basins to advise the implementation of the plans and to help set priorities.
To learn more about towns that have adopted a stream management plan or to find information about local watershed advisory committees, please visit the CWC website.
Working with Partners in the Watershed
An essential part of DEP’s Long-Term Watershed Protection Program includes working with the many diverse stakeholders from the eight-county watershed region. Under the 1997 Watershed Agreement and subsequent filtration waivers, several organizations and government agencies are directly implementing programs with funding provided by the City through contracts with DEP. These vital watershed partnerships help to protect water quality while promoting environmentally compatible economic development.
Two of New York City’s primary watershed partners include the Watershed Agricultural Council and the Catskill Watershed Corporation. Both organizations are locally-based not-for-profit corporations that were specifically created to assist DEP with the administration and implementation of watershed protection and economic development programs. The WAC is involved primarily with natural resource and land conservation programs, whereas the CWC primarily oversees community infrastructure and economic development programs. Many other watershed partners serve in various capacities, such as oversight, advice, public education, and communication.