New York City will convey title to a large piece of property located in Greene County to New York State for expanded recreational use. Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports the move will ensure water quality protection while giving tourism a boost.
815 acres of land in the New York City watershed was acquired by the City in 2002 and 2005 under its Land Acquisition Program to protect water quality for more than nine million city residents. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have worked cooperatively over several years to transfer ownership since DEC expressed interest in managing the property in the town of Windham for recreational use consistent with watershed protection.
Paul Rush is Deputy Commissioner for the DEP's Bureau of Water Supply. He says that, with the land transfer, DEC will assume tax and stewardship obligations. The site was selected due to the extensive network of pre-existing dirt roads that are suitable for biking and other recreational opportunities. Windham Town Supervisor Stephen Walker says the change will benefit the local tourist economy.
Watershed protection is widely considered the best way of maintaining high quality drinking water in the long term. Paul Rush notes that New York City’s gravity-flow water delivery system is one of the most comprehensive in the world.
DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and others professionals in the upstate watershed comprised of 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts. DEP has invested more than $1.5 billion in watershed protection programs.