New York– The city of New York has committed $1 billion to protect the nation’s largest municipal water system as part of a 115-page agreement with state health officials. Funding for the drinking water system will be used for programs that protect the one million acres of watershed. The biggest chunk, $200 million, will be used to maintain and upgrade dozens of wastewater treatment plants. Another $180 million will go toward reducing pollution from working farms and replacing old and dead forest trees with young saplings that collect nutrients from rain and snow that runs into the reservoirs. There will also be $150 million for shoring up eroding streams to improve water quality and supporting flood mitigation projects. In addition, $96 million has been allocated for preserving land from development and $85 million will be used to expand a program that repairs or replaces septic systems for homes and small businesses.
The new agreement is the result of more than six months of negotiations between city and state officials, along with input from environmental and public health advocates, and representatives of upstate residents near the reservoirs. The agreement also calls for an independent review of the city’s water protection efforts by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.