May 31, 2019
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released the final version of updated rules that govern access and activities on more than 137,000 acres of water supply property that are open for recreation in the watershed. The new rules, which go into effect on June 30, include many updates that will improve recreational access City’s reservoirs and the watershed lands that surround them.
DEP currently allows a wide range of low-impact recreational activities at 19 reservoirs, three lakes and thousands of acres of watershed land. These scenic areas in the Catskills and Hudson Valley include access for fishing, boating, hiking, hunting and more. To protect the water supply and promote outdoor recreation, the City governs recreational activities through a set of rules that outline requirements for permitting, the types of activities that are allowed, and the kinds of equipment that can be used on water supply property. The watershed recreation rules were last updated in 2010. Since then, DEP has expanded access to additional lands, started a successful recreational boating program on four reservoirs in the Catskills, hosted dozens of recreational events, and met with thousands of watershed residents and visitors who recreate on water supply properties. In July 2018, DEP hosted to public hearings to gather feedback on a draft update to the recreation rules. Those discussions helped to inform a number of minor changes that were included as part of the final update to the recreation rules.
Download a full version of DEP’s updated recreation rules. A detailed summary of the most important changes can be found on our website, as well. Some of the most significant changes in the final recreation rules include the following:
The City’s watershed recreation rules apply to water supply properties in Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Putnam, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties. Over the past decade, DEP has worked in partnership with local government officials, nonprofits and outdoor recreation groups to improve and expand access for recreation. DEP currently owns more than 137,000 acres of land and water that are open for recreation in more than 400 locations throughout the watershed. A DEP Access Permit is required for recreation on the reservoirs and their immediate buffer lands. That permit can be obtained and printed from home by using DEP’s online system at www.nyc.gov/dep/accesspermit. Thousands of acres are also open for recreation without a DEP permit. In 2008, DEP first established Public Access Areas to allow recreation without a permit on certain watershed lands. Since then, the number of acres open for recreation without a permit has more than tripled from 20,009 to 74,115.
In 2016, DEP also released an interactive recreation mapping tool to help outdoor enthusiasts find accessible lands and waters more easily. The RecMapper utility combines maps of recreation areas with data related to parcel size, location, uses allowed on each parcel, and other helpful information. It allows users to interactively explore recreation areas by zooming in to any portion of the Croton, Catskill or Delaware watersheds. The map includes City recreation areas, and those owned and managed by the State of New York. All the recreation parcels are highlighted on the map and users can get helpful information by clicking on them. The RecMapper also includes street maps, topographic maps and satellite imagery to help users find each site and understand its steepness, forest cover and other conditions. The tool was designed to work on computers, cell phones and tablets. It is regularly updated as new recreation areas are opened. The RecMapper can be found by visiting www.nyc.gov/dep/recmap. Other information about recreation in the watershed can be found at www.nyc.gov/dep/recreation.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 in the upstate watershed. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $19.7 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.