Protection and Remediation Programs

FAD Section 4.1 - Waterfowl Management Program

2007 FAD Requirements

The 2007 FAD requires the City to perform avian population monitoring, harassment and deterrence in key City reservoirs in order to minimize fecal coliform loading to reservoirs from roosting birds. The City's 2006 Long-Term Watershed Protection Program expanded the Waterfowl Management Program on an "as needed" basis to include avian harassment activities for the Hillview Reservoir as well as avian deterrent measures for Hillview and other City reservoirs.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

The City has met all waterfowl management and reporting requirements for this program. Avian dispersal techniques were used on Kensico between August 1 and March 31 of each year and year round on a daily basis on Hillview Reservoir. Bird harassment was required in January through March of 2007 at West Branch Reservoir, but was not required in any of the City's other terminal reservoirs during the first five years of the 2007 FAD. Bird deterrent measures were practiced on all the City's terminal reservoirs as well as Cross River, Croton Falls, and Hillview Reservoirs.

The Waterfowl Management Program is a critical component of the City's watershed protection plan, effectively reducing levels of fecal coliform bacteria in the City's source waters.

FAD Section 4.2 - Land Acquisition Program

2007 FAD Requirements

The goal of the Land Acquisition Program is to ensure that environmentally-sensitive watershed lands remain undeveloped and protected. The 2007 FAD requires the City to undertake a tenyear Land Acquisition Program, during which the City commits to solicit to purchase, in fee simple or in conservation easement, at least 50,000 acres of land per year through 2012. To support this goal, the City has made available a total of $300 million dollars for use in purchasing watershed lands over the course of the ten-year period. The 2007 FAD also required the City to develop a strategy to enhance use of land trusts and other non-governmental organizations to help in land acquisition efforts, to commit funds to the Watershed Agriculture Council (WAC) for use in developing a program to acquire conservation easements on forested portions of non-agricultural land, to sequester $23 million of supplemental funds if so directed by EPA/NYSDOH, and to apply for a Water Supply Permit (WSP) from NYSDEC to cover a ten-year term.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

The City continues to conduct a successful land acquisition program, exceeding their solicitation goals for the first five years of the 2007 FAD. From 2007 through the first half of 2011, the City solicited more than 450,000 acres and, with the WAC, protected through acquisition or easement 41,000 acres of sensitive watershed lands. In addition, as required, the City applied for a WSP from NYSDEC, and that permit was issued December 24, 2010. However, the City has missed the due dates for completion of some of the other requirements of the Land Acquisition Program.The City has not yet completed a strategy for working with land trusts to enhance landacquisition efforts, but has met several times with selected land trusts to develop the details of such a program. The City has not yet come to agreement with WAC on the details of a forest easement program. EPA and NYSDOH requested that the City release the $23 million supplemental funds to WAC in April 2008. The City and WAC have not yet finalized the contract that will make these funds available for WAC's use. In sum, although certain elements of the land acquisition program have not yet been implemented, the NYCDEP's core program has been active and successful in protecting watershed lands in recent years.

FAD Section 4.3 - Land Management

2007 FAD Requirements

Reservoir water quality is largely dictated by human activities and the nature of the lands in the watershed. Therefore it is important to foster stewardship and regulate activities that could negatively impact water quality. Purchasing sensitive land and establishing conservation easements are an effective means to ensure lands are managed in a way that is protective of water quality.

The City has been very successful in its land acquisition efforts and in securing conservation easements and its holdings continue to grow. However, simply owning or controlling development rights to land is not enough. It is also important to manage land to optimize water quality protection, foster healthy forests and other natural resources, control invasive species, and allow recreational opportunities. For these reasons, the 2007 FAD included a new, separate program for Land Management.

The 2007 FAD requires the City to monitor water supply lands, enforce the conditions of conservation easements, maintain a watershed land information system, and develop a land management plan.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

The City's reporting on this FAD deliverable is contained in the Filtration Avoidance Annual Reports, and it appears all goals continue to be met. Monitoring is very important to managing the watershed land holdings. All pertinent information on properties is stored in The Watershed Land Information System (WaLIS), and data are also used in a variety of GIS applications. Cityowned lands are classified as being High or Standard priority, with inspections taking place annually and at least every five years, respectively. High priority lands consist of: places with an elevated security concern (e.g. intakes), areas with existing or future high intensity recreational uses, and properties with a history of trespass or encroachment. Easements are inspected twice each year. Properties are posted within 90 days of closing, and boundaries maintained during site visits and inspections. The City has also increased its use of aerial inspections, which takes less manpower and allows them to catch encroachments faster. It is likely the City's vigilance has played a major role in keeping encroachments and other problems relatively rare.

Managing forestry lands is particularly important in protecting water quality. The majority of the forests in the watershed are relatively old, and they will likely show a decline in condition without proper management. The City has worked with the United States Forest Service (USFS) to create a management plan. This plan is on track to be completed in November 2011. This plan is based on substantial forest inventory work and data analysis. Its goal is to maximize water quality protection while minimizing fire and other hazardous events, enhancing ecological integrity, controlling invasive species, and providing recreational opportunities and economic benefits to watershed communities.

The City is successfully increasing recreational opportunities in the watershed as its land holdings continue to increase. The City has eased administrative requirements to use City land, opened more lands to recreation without an access permit, and eliminated the need for a special DEP hunting permit. Hunting plays a very valuable role in reducing the deer population which helps with forest regeneration and increases road safety. The City also allows fishing from steam-cleaned (for zebra mussel control) and registered rowboats that have to remain on site for the season, and there is a five year pilot program underway that allows the use of other nonmotorized boat types for both day and seasonal use. Reservoir cleanup days and other stewardship activities performed by various organizations are used to make improvements and serve as a valuable education tool.

In addition to recreation, the City allows watershed residents to use some of their holdings for economic benefit. This includes: bluestone mining, timber harvesting (for selective culling and blow down remediation), maple sap collection and some agriculture, primarily on land that was actively farmed at the time of purchase. The City has loosened some of its regulations on the types of activities that are allowed, but they review all proposed activity and take other measures to protect water quality such as maintaining large buffer strips near streams and not allowing manure spreading during the winter.

NYSDOH and EPA recognize that the City has a strong Land Management Program and has greatly enhanced access to its watershed lands for recreational use by the public. As the amount of City-owned lands increases, the importance of this watershed protection program will continue to grow.

FAD Section 4.4 - Watershed Agricultural Program

2007 FAD Requirements

The overall objective of the Watershed Agricultural Program (WAP) is to protect water quality from pollution associated with agricultural land use. This voluntary program is administered by the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) in cooperation with local, State, and federal partner organizations. WAP is designed to identify, prioritize, and mitigate environmental issues on each participating farm through development of Whole Farm Plans (WFPs) and the implementation of best management practices (BMPs).

The 2006 Long-Term Watershed Protection Program (Section 2.3.4) and the 2007 FAD (Section 4.4) contain a number of programmatic goals, including continual recruitment of nonparticipating large farms WOH, expansion of the Small Farms and the EOH programs, and development of a programmatic strategy for replacing aging/failing BMPs. The 2007 FAD also contains a new metric requiring 90% of all active large farms WOH to have and maintain "substantially implemented" status of their WFPs, beginning September 30, 2010. Furthermore, the City is required to conduct a review of current WAP evaluation criteria with input from the WAC Advisory Committee.

Other 2007 FAD requirements include preparation and submittal of a comprehensive annual report on the status of all programmatic activities; completion of annual status reviews on all farms with substantially implemented WFPs; inventorying all small farms to determine the number, extent and potential impact of small farms on water quality in the WOH watershed; and continuation of the Farmer Education and Outreach initiatives to address effective pathogen and nutrient management.

In addition, the 2007 FAD was enhanced by the City's commitment to evaluate and report on a study on the potential benefits of a Precision Feed Management Program conducted by Delaware County; continue and expand the Nutrient Management Credit program to approximately 80 participating farms in the Cannonsville Reservoir Basin; and provide funding and perpetually enforce long-term stewardship of Agricultural Easements.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

The City's 2011 Watershed Protection Program Summary and Assessment report describes the WAP and details specific programmatic achievements. The continued success of the WAP is accomplished through partnerships between the farmers and the WAC, as well as local agencies such as Cornell Cooperative Extensions, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and federal/State agencies such as USDA/NRCS, and USDA/FSA.

Through 2010, 254 of the 265 known large farms in the WOH watershed signed up for the WAP (96% participation) and 248 of those participants (98%) have Whole Farm Plans. The six additional farms that recently signed up for the program are in the process of developing WFPs. NYSDOH and EPA are pleased with the increased level of program participation.

In accordance with the FAD, assessment of compliance with the 90% substantially implemented (SI) criterion began on September 30, 2010. On that date, DEP reported that 90% of all large farms in the WOH watershed had met the substantially implemented (SI) status at least once; however, after achieving SI, some farms subsequently experienced changes so that they no longer maintained SI status. As provided for in the 2007 FAD, WAC, in consultation with its partners, revisited and revised the SI metric to enhance program implementation flexibility and water quality protection. This has resulted in the development of alternative program metrics. The new metrics include: maintain at least 90% large farm participation in the program; maintain current nutrient management plans on 90% of farms; increase participation in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and WAC Easement and Forestry Programs; and complete annual status reviews for at least 90% of WFPs (with a goal of 100%).In addition, a new BMP Prioritization Methodology has been developed to guide the selection of what new BMPs should be implemented and which existing BMPs should be repaired orreplaced in order to optimize use of resources while effectively protecting water quality.

The WAP continues to conduct annual status reviews on all farms, and this practice became part of the WFP process. Excluding sub-farms, in 2009 and 2010 annual status reviews were conducted on 249 and 300 farms, respectively.

The implementation of the WOH small farm program continues to be successful. Through 2010, WAP staff have completed Tier I questionnaires for 310 small farms (currently known universe of small farms) and 85 of these small farms have WFPs, which represents 27% of all known small farms. As required by the 2007 FAD, the WAP has to develop new WFPs for 10 small farms annually and this goal was continuously met. In June 2009, the City submitted a Small Farms Assessment FAD report that contained a number of recommendations for prioritizing small farm planning efforts in the future, including a proposal to set a more flexible goal. Given the nature of small farming with its constant changes in operation, NYSDOH and EPA have agreed to set a more flexible goal, which would require the annual development of new WFPs on 6-10 small farms for the remainder of the 2007 FAD.

The EOH agricultural program continues to be successful as well. WAC provides a full-service staff in Yorktown Heights to serve the needs of agriculture and forestry landowners in the Croton Watershed. EOH agriculture is predominantly equine operations and horticulture, with small farms and cooperatives that address the region's increasing demand for fresh, organic and locally-grown produce. Through 2010, 56 WFPs were approved and 42 of those farms had commenced implementation of their WFPs.

NYSDOH and EPA believe that the agricultural program has successfully met expectations and that it remains an effective and important element of the City's watershed protection program. As the program continues to move forward with the new BMP Prioritization Methodology and revised metrics, NYSDOH and EPA think it is important to revisit the metrics to ensure that they are appropriate indicators for assessing the continued success of the WAP.

FAD Section 4.5 - Watershed Forestry Program

2007 FAD Requirements

The Watershed Forestry Program is a voluntary partnership between the City and the forestry community, which supports and maintains well-managed forests as a beneficial land use in the watershed. The Watershed Forestry Program is administered by WAC and its primary goal is to maintain unfragmented forested land and promote the use of management practices to prevent non-point source pollution during timber harvests.

The program provides financial incentives and technical assistance to loggers, foresters, and landowners to encourage the protection and restoration of riparian buffers through long-term forest stewardship. The Watershed Forestry Program includes: development of forestmanagement plans; logger training, support for model forests; research; demonstration projects and best management practices (BMP) implementation. The 2007 FAD carries forward all these elements and also provides additional support for BMP implementation through the newly established initiative called the Management Assistance Program (MAP).

The City's 2006 Long-Term Watershed Protection Program (Section 2.3.5) and the 2007 FAD (Section 4.5) detail programmatic requirements and due dates for their implementation. The City is required to continue to: fund the development of forest management plans for landowners, including training and educational opportunities for professional foresters who write the plans; sponsor sediment control trainings and other BMP workshops for watershed loggers, including cost sharing to become fully certified under the State-wide Trained Logger Certification Program; provide cost-sharing, technical assistance and other incentives to landowners, loggers and professional foresters for implementing specific forestry BMPs, including portable skidder bridges, new erosion control technology, and riparian forest buffers; coordinate the ongoing research, demonstration, continuing education and outreach projects at the three current Model Forests and establish an EOH model forest; and sponsor and support forestry education projects and programs for watershed landowners, environmental groups, youth and other upstate/downstate audiences, including the publication of newsletters, brochures and progress reports. The 2007 FAD also required the City to complete a pilot program, evaluate the pilot program, and expand the program on a watershed-wide basis for the MAP, which provides additional support for BMP implementation by forest landowners. The City also has various reporting and program planning requirements for the forestry program.

Specific projects and programs are implemented by WAC and its various partners, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service providing a major source of matching grants and project funding. The City has provided funds to WAC for four major forestry tasks: (1) Logger Training, (2) Research, Demonstration and Forestry Education, (3) Forest Management Planning, and (4) BMP Implementation.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

The 2007 FAD also requires continuous enrollment of eligible landowners in the Watershed Forestry Program and providing financial and technical assistance to loggers, foresters, and landowners. In 2007, the Watershed Forestry Program expanded the pool of its BMPs to place a greater emphasis on stream crossings as an important erosion control measure. Part of this expansion included the purchase of new stream crossing BMPs, such as plastic arch culverts and additional portable bridges, which are available for loan to interested loggers and/or landowners. In addition, some innovative BMPs that are used to stabilize timber harvest roads as they approach streams can be qualified for cost-sharing if they are properly designed and constructed (e.g. rubber tire land mats).

As of March 2011, more than 900 landowners, covering approximately 164,000 watershed acres, have completed WAC forest management plans, with 74 of these landowners, covering over 14,000 total acres, located EOH. There are also 343 riparian buffer plans covering nearly 11,000 riparian acres. Currently, 51 private consulting foresters are trained and approved to write WAC forest management plans. The City continues to support the development of new forest management plans, focusing on riparian planning, 5-year updates, landowner evaluation surveys, and property site visits. In its 2011 Watershed Protection Program Summary and Assessment the City stated that during the reporting period, WAC supported the completion of 19 stream crossing projects associated with a timber harvest. In addition, 27 portable bridges and 11 arch culverts have been loaned out to keep the logging equipment out of streams to minimize their disturbance.

The delineation of riparian areas in all WAC forest management plans as well as specific streamside protection recommendations for these delineated areas continue to be successful. During the current assessment period, 276 riparian plans were completed covering 7,900 riparian acres. These figures include 301 new WAC plans and 14 existing (older) WAC plans that were updated to meet current WAC plan specifications. It is worth noting that for all WAC plans and plan updates completed to date, 38% contain a riparian plan, covering nearly 11,000 riparian acres.

The Watershed Forestry Program initiated a pilot project in 2005 called the Management Assistance Program (MAP). This new program provides limited funding assistance to implement specific practices recommended in landowners' Forestry Management Plans to at least 20 watershed landowners per year. WAC and the City completed and evaluated this pilot program in 2008 and expanded the MAP on a watershed-wide basis to eligible landowners having a WAC forest management plan. As of March 2011, 233 MAP projects have been completed by 135 different landowners. These completed MAP projects include: timber stand improvements, tree plantings, riparian improvements, wildlife improvements, and invasive species control projects. The MAP will continue to be a priority of the Watershed Forestry Program in the future.

During the current assessment period, the Watershed Forestry Program continued to implement a wide range of forestry education and professional training programs for landowners, loggers, foresters, school groups, and other target audiences. One of the primary aims of these programs is to teach audiences about the importance of riparian buffers.

Model forests have been established in three locations WOH. The Lennox Memorial Forest, opened in 2001, is an 80-acre site owned by Delaware County and affiliated with the 4-H Camp Shankitunk in Delhi, NY. The Frost Valley Model Forest was opened in 2003, and is a 240-acre site owned by Frost Valley YMCA and connected to its environmental center in Ulster County. The Siuslaw Model Forest is a 140-acre site in Greene County hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Greene County and the Agroforestry Resource Center. The Watershed Forestry Program is also working to establish a new model forest in the Croton Watershed located at the Clearpool Environmental Education Camp in Putnam County. All three established model forests contain various forest management practices, including informational kiosks and numerous interpretive signs, and are utilized year round by their respective host organizations and various Watershed Forestry Program partners to conduct education and training programs for landowners, loggers, foresters, school groups, and other target audiences from both the watershed and New York City.

The City's 2011 Watershed Protection Program Summary and Assessment report describes the forestry program and details additional specific program achievements. Overall, NYSDOH and EPA believe that the forestry program has successfully met expectations and remains an effective and important element of the City's watershed protection program.

FAD Section 4.6 - Stream Management Program

2007 FAD Requirements

The primary goal of the Stream Management Program (SMP) is to protect and/or restore stability of watershed streams and floodplains. This is accomplished using stream management plans, stream restoration demonstration projects, and locally-led implementation of plan recommendations. The result is long-term stream stewardship, guided by a strong network of partnering agencies and community participation, which seeks to improve water quality.

The primary goal of the Stream Management Program (SMP) is to protect and/or restore stability of watershed streams and floodplains. This is accomplished using stream management plans, stream restoration demonstration projects, and locally-led implementation of plan recommendations. The result is long-term stream stewardship, guided by a strong network of partnering agencies and community participation, which seeks to improve water quality.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

Stream management plans were completed for the East Branch Delaware River, the Rondout Creek, and the Neversink River. Demonstration restoration projects were completed for the East Branch Delaware River, the Schoharie Creek, and the Batavia Kill, while restoration projects for the Rondout Creek and Neversink River should be completed by early 2012.

The City has met annually with county partners to review SMP priorities and develop "action plans" to prioritize and implement stream management plan recommendations. Thirty-five stream projects have been completed in the Delaware and Schoharie Reservoir basins through the newly established Stream Management Implementation Grants Program (SMIP). In the Ashokan basin, twenty-one local implementation grants have been awarded, and the City expects to complete its required $2 million funding commitment by the end of 2012. A new streamside assistance program, the Catskill Stream Buffer Initiative, was developed to provide technical and financial assistance to non-agricultural riparian landowners. The website was developed, and is used as a repository for stream management plans and an outreach tool for interested community members. The City has completed two of its proposed stream restoration projects, and two others are in progress.

The City has worked collaboratively with local municipalities, key stakeholders and partnering agencies to develop a very active and successful stream management program. NYSDOH and EPA believe the SMP to be an effective tool for restoring and protecting stream stability, thereby reducing sediment contributions to watershed streams from erosion of stream banks and beds.

FAD Section 4.7 - Riparian Buffer Protection Program

2007 FAD Requirements

The Riparian Buffer Protection Program is a watershed-wide effort focused on improving buffers along privately-owned stream reaches. These efforts are coordinated through other programs (Land Acquisition, Watershed Agricultural, Stream Management, and Forestry). Technical assistance, education, and training are offered to riparian landowners on topics such as proper streamside management and riparian plantings.

As part of Riparian Buffers, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) addresses environmental impacts to watercourses from agriculture by compensating farmers for taking riparian lands out of farm production. CREP is implemented in conjunction with Whole Farm Planning under the Watershed Agricultural Program. The 2007 FAD requires the City to evaluate CREP and continue its implementation. The City was also required to develop and implement a streamside assistance program (in coordination with the Stream Management Program).

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

The City completed an evaluation of CREP, concluding that the program was an important part of the Watershed Agricultural Program, but may need to be modified in future years to increase farmer participation. The City has continued with the use of enhanced management agreements for stream restoration projects, either through voluntary 10-year easements or purchase. Over 30 pilot and full-scale projects have been completed under the Catskill Stream Buffer Initiative (CSBI), the streamside assistance program developed by the City. CSBI coordinators have worked with the New York Natural Heritage Program to identify appropriate species selections for replanting efforts. A supply of native plant materials have been established, with local plant stock holding areas and a propagation agreement with NYC Parks and Recreation's Greenbelt Nursery.

The City has also coordinated with partners like county Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Cornell Cooperative Extension, WAC, CWC, Nature Conservancy, and Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. The City and its partners completed at least 44 Riparian Corridor Management Plans for individual landowners, conducted 35 public activities (such asvolunteer planting and riparian workshops), and developed program marketing and reference materials, including a dedicated CSBI website .

The Riparian Buffer Protection Program is a valuable program directly impacting the protection of streamside lands by leveraging private landowner assistance, and in the case of CREP, federal dollars as well. NYSDOH and EPA support the continuation and expansion of all components of this program.

FAD Section 4.8 - Wetlands Protection Program

2007 FAD Requirements

Wetlands are recognized for the important role they play in maintaining and improving water quality, attenuating peak stormwater runoff, and maintaining baseflow in streams. The City's 2006 Long-Term Watershed Protection Program (Section 2.3.8) and the 2007 FAD (Section 4.8) include a Wetlands Protection Program. Requirements for this program include: monitor WOH reference wetlands, review federal, State and municipal wetland permit applications, complete a WOH Status and Trends Study, update the City's wetlands educational pamphlet, and revise the City's Wetlands Protection Strategy to reflect 2007 FAD requirements.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

All 2007 FAD requirements for this program have been met. The City has continued to monitor reference wetlands and continues to review federal, State, and municipal wetland permit applications. The WOH Wetlands Status and Trends Report was submitted to NYSDOH/EPA on December 29, 2008. The report noted that many wetlands have been converted to man-made ponds.

The Wetlands Protection Program continues to be an important component of the City's overall watershed protection program.

FAD Section 4.9 - East-of-Hudson Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program

2007 FAD Requirements

The East-of-Hudson (EOH) Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program is a comprehensive effort to protect the four Catskill/Delaware basins that are located EOH from the impacts of nonpoint pollutant sources. West Branch and Boyd Corners are considered part of the Catskill/Delaware system because water from these reservoirs regularly blends with water from the Delaware Aqueduct. Croton Falls and Cross River are hydrologically part of the Croton System, but they have the ability to deliver water into the Delaware Aqueduct during emergencies or other designated times. The overall EOH nonpoint source control effort is broadly separated into wastewater and stormwater related programs. Specifically, the 2007 FAD requires the City to: complete a number of stormwater remediation projects; construct two large retrofit projects on Hemlock Dam and Magnetic Mine Roads in the Croton Falls watershed; complete mapping and inspection of the stormwater infrastructure around Boyd Corners and West Branch Reservoirs; determine and prioritize the locations of future stormwater projects on City-owned property; establish a $4.5 million program to help fund the implementation of stormwater projects in the Cross River, Croton Falls and hydrologically connected basins; complete sanitary mapping and inspection of the EOH sanitary sewer infrastructure; and work with the EOH counties' septic programs.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

The goals for the wastewater components of this FAD program have mostly been achieved. Sanitary infrastructure mapping was completed on time. Mapping data will be incorporated into the City's GIS library, and information will be made available to the responsible municipalities and private entities. The EOH septic program deliverable has been met. In Westchester County, the City supports the county Health Department's training and licensing of septic contractors, and the development of a Septic System Management Program database. In Putnam County, the City works with the county Septic Repair Program.

The City has experienced delays in meeting several requirements of the stormwater elements of the EOH Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. In general, these delays appear to be due to underestimating the amount of oversight and internal and local reviews these projects require, and/or issues with project impacts on private property. There have been numerous delays with the five Stormwater Remediation Projects outlined in the 2007 FAD. These projects had a completion deadline of December 31, 2009, but as of June 2011, all five projects were still not completed. All five projects have progressed to at least the 100% design stage. After considerable negotiation between the City and EOH communities that are subject to the NYSDEC's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) stormwater regulations, a grant program to address stormwater pollution in the Croton Falls and Cross River basins was developed. To date, none of the $4.5 million committed to this program has been allocated. Design and construction dates for the Stormwater Remediation Small Projects Program were not met. Delays could be attributed, in part, to a contractor who did not have an adequate experience or capacity to do this type of work. However, after a new contractor was selected all remaining projects have been completed. The City's continues to inspect, monitor, and maintain the completed project sites.

The two Stormwater Retrofit projects at Hemlock Dam Road and Magnetic Mine Road have been completed. The Stormwater Infrastructure Mapping and Inspection Program for the West Branch and Boyd Corners Reservoir basins was completed satisfactorily and on time. These infrastructure data have been added to the City's GIS system, and locations of all the noted structural problems and suspected illicit connections have been sent to the appropriate local municipalities for review and remediation, as needed. The stormwater infrastructure capacity evaluation and prioritization assessment for the entire EOH Catskill/Delaware System has been completed. Results of the stormwater infrastructure evaluation have been shared with EOH municipalities, which should help them in their efforts to comply with MS4 stormwater requirements.

The EOH Stormwater Prioritization Assessment (City-owned Properties) deliverable has been met. Four potential future stormwater sites were selected in March 2009. One site was subsequently addressed under the City's small projects program. The following three sites were selected to move into preliminary design to decide if the projects will move forward: Route 301 at Peekskill Hollow Road (Boyd Corners), Route 6 and Route 301 at Lake Gleneida (West Branch), and Croton Falls Reservoir at Lakeview Road (Croton Falls). The following schedule was established:

  • Advertise Bid for Design Services - December 2010
  • Initiate Design Contract - June 2011
  • Initiate Construction Contract - January 2012

The proximity of the EOH FAD basins to the intakes for the NYC distribution system makes protection of these basins from pollutant sources particularly critical. While Cross River and Croton Falls Reservoirs are not generally used to supply the Catskill/Delaware system, the City may be relying on these sources during an extended period while the Rondout-West Branch tunnel is shut down for repairs. This shutdown is scheduled to begin in the latter part of 2018, and may last for approximately one year. NYSDOH and EPA recognize that robust wastewater and stormwater programs are critical to protecting water in the EOH basins and support continuation of these programs as part of the City's overall watershed protection plan. In addition, to ensure that the stormwater management projects the City has implemented continue to function as designed, the City should continue to maintain these projects as necessary.

FAD Section 4.10 - Kensico Water Quality Control

2007 FAD Requirements

Because the Kensico Reservoir is the last impoundment of Catskill/Delaware water prior to entering the City's distribution system, the protection of this reservoir is critically important to maintaining filtration avoidance for the City. The 1997 and 2002 FADs built a foundation of expanded watershed protection and pollution prevention initiatives for the Kensico basin. Under the 2007 FAD, the City instituted new watershed protection and remediation programs designed to ensure the continued success of past efforts while providing new protection initiatives that were specifically targeted toward stormwater and wastewater pollution sources.

The focus in the 2007 FAD for the Kensico Water Quality Control Program is:

  • Long-Term Operation and Maintenance - the City is to continue to regularly inspect the existing storm water management facilities and determine maintenance needs of each identified facility in order to determine and maximize its removal efficiency;
  • Complete Assessment of Kensico - through the Kensico Action Plan (KAP), the City was to make better strategic decisions on future storm water and dredging projects; and
  • Reduce the Potential Risk- implementation of a Septic Repair Program, construction of an early warning sanitary sewer overflow protection system and the annual visual inspection of sanitary sewers planned to increase the City's ability to prevent possible discharges of wastewater to Kensico.

The 2007 FAD requires that the City implement its Kensico Water Quality Control Program in accordance with section 2.3.10 of the City's 2006 Long-Term Watershed Protection Program and the milestones contained therein.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

The City has achieved most of the requirements of the first five year period of the 2007 FAD for the Kensico program. In its effort to maintain nonpoint management facilities around Kensico Reservoir, the City constructed 45 stormwater management/ erosion prevention facilities throughout the watershed; many are concentrated on the western edge of the main basin while other facilities are located in the Bear Gutter sub-basin and adjacent to Route 120. These facilities are routinely inspected and maintained as needed throughout the year.

There have been intermittent reports on the status of the turbidity curtain that diverts discharges from Malcolm Brook away from the Catskill Upper Effluent Chamber; especially after storms or in winter. An underwater assessment of the primary turbidity curtain was performed in May 2010. This resulted in a list of curtain repair needs. Two 50-foot sections of the primary turbidity curtain were replaced. Stainless steel ties replaced nylon ties on both the primary and secondary curtains. Minor repairs were also done on the secondary turbidity curtain in October 2010.

The City maintains spill containment facilities around Kensico Reservoir Basin. In 2010, the City continued to maintain the 39 spill containment facilities installed at the outlets of 26 storm drains along Interstate 684 and Route 120.

The 2007 FAD required the City to update the computer-assisted facilities management system (CAFM) to track, document and manage the Kensico watershed protection programs. An application was developed for the City staff to keep track of facility inspections and maintenance.

The City was required to monitor selected BMPs from 2000 through 2007 in order to assess their performance at reducing pollutant loading from stormwater runoff. Monitoring results indicated that the BMPs studied were effective at reducing loadings of sediment, turbidity, fecal coliform and total phosphorus to the reservoir.

The Kensico Action Plan (KAP) was completed as required by August 15, 2007. Key elements of the KAP program have been reported regularly in the Annual Report for the Kensico Water Quality Control Program (January) and The Filtration Avoidance Annual Report (March). In accordance with the KAP, the City has:

  • completed a 2-ft contour map of the Kensico sub-basin;
  • proposed four pollution remediation practices. These are: [1] Whippoorwill Creek stream stabilization; [2] an extended detention basin for N12; [3] drainage improvements on West Lake drive to enhance the performance of BMP 12 and BMP 13 (associated with Malcolm Brook); and [4] N7 pipeline systems and storm water stabilization. Implementation of these projects in accordance with the City's original proposed schedule has been delayed due to issues with bidding; bidding and permitting to construct these projects is ongoing. The City will provide a revised schedule in 2011.
  • assessed up to four water quality risks around Kensico Reservoir. Three assessments were selected: [1] potential impacts of the Westchester County Airport (e.g., surface runoff; glycol and other spills); [2] turf management chemicals in the N5 sub-basin (herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers); [3] impact of the Swiss Re office complex on the Rye Lake basin. The assessment determined that these potential risks to water quality were adequately mitigated or were not significant; and
  • summarized the need for effluent chamber dredging. The Catskill Upper Effluent Chamber (CUEC) and Shaft 18 were last dredged in 1999. The CUEC was reevaluated by divers in 2009 and it was determined that silt and sediment had reaccumulated and the levels warranted some turbidity controls (which were implemented). Dredging at CUEC will not be done until the Catskill Aqueduct is shut down for pressurization (approximately 2020). Shaft 18 was re-evaluated in November 2010, and only minor accumulations of solids were noted; there were no changes to operating conditions.

The 2007 FAD required the City to develop a septic repair program for the Kensico Reservoir watershed. The proposed program was submitted to NYSDOH and EPA in a report dated October 2007. The report included a prioritization of properties based on a survey of targeted homes. The City contracted with the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) in October 2008 to implement a septic system rehabilitation reimbursement program. Residents in targeted areas have been notified of the program. Five failing septic systems have been addressed since the program started in 2009.

In accordance with the FAD, the City has proposed a sanitary sewer remote monitoring system for the Westlake Sewer Trunk Line for real-time detection of events such as leaks, system breaks, overflows, and blockages. The purpose of the monitoring system is primarily rapid remediation response. The City and the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities (WCDEF) have continued to work on an inter-municipal agreement (IMA), a draft of which was submitted to Westchester County in March 2010. Contracting services for installation, monitoring, and maintenance of the system will be managed by WCDEF. WCDEF and the City have also selected a product for real-time monitoring. It is a self-contained, continuously monitoring, ultrasonic level sensor with satellite communication and web-based access and data management. Both agencies have agreed on manhole locations along the trunk line where the sensors should be installed. Regular updates on this project have been received by NYSDOH and EPA.

The City reported in August 2007 on the impacts of wind speed and wind direction on the creation of turbidity near the Catskill Lower Effluent Chamber. In an additional deliverable received in December 2008, the City reported that the wind-induced turbidity issue would be addressed by shoreline stabilization using rip rap. This work is on hold until the Catskill Aqueduct is shut down for rehabilitation.

The City has also conducted the following activities in accordance with 2007 FAD requirements:

  • visual inspection of West Lake Sewer extension has been completed annually. The City has conducted an annual visual inspection of the trunk line to assess the condition of exposed infrastructure. The last annual full inspection was performed in December 2010;
  • a sanitary sewer video inspection program has been initiated. A report on the inspection is pending (2011);
  • the City continues to coordinate with the Westchester County Airport on proposed airport projects. Regular updates have been submitted to NYSDOH/EPA; and
  • the City has continued to coordinate with the New York State Department of Transportation on the proposed resurfacing of I-684 and construction of storm water treatment basins in the I-684 median (south of the new Lake Street overpass in New York northward to the bridge over Tamarack Swamp in Connecticut). The project is being implemented in 2011.

The Kensico Water Quality Control Program is a key element of the City's watershed protection program as it works to provide adequate protection of the City's source water at its most vulnerable point. Components of the program have successfully protected the City's terminal reservoir from spills, stormwater runoff, and sewage inputs. While NYSDOH and EPA understand the City's reasoning for delaying implementation of the shoreline stabilization project at the CUEC, we urge the City to address this issue as soon as it becomes feasible to do so.

FAD Section 4.11 - Catskill Turbidity Control Program

2007 FAD Requirements

Elevated turbidity events within the Catskill system are not a new phenomenon and likely represent the greatest risk to the City maintaining its filtration avoidance. The majority of turbidity comes during short-term major flow events that result in excessively high turbidity levels in the upper Esopus channel. This turbidity is primarily generated within the channel itself, rather than the surrounding landscape, and this impact of the underlying geology on water quality was considered when the Catskill System was designed. For example, turbidity is given a chance to settle in the Schoharie Reservoir before it enters the Upper Esopus. Alternatively, turbid Schoharie Reservoir water can be isolated from the Catskill system by shutting down the Shandaken Tunnel. In addition, the dividing weir between the West and East Basins of the Ashokan Reservoir give turbidity another opportunity to settle in the West Basin and again in the East Basin before it moves down the Catskill Aqueduct and into Kensico Reservoir. Once in Kensico, there is additional time to allow turbidity to settle as water moves to the Kensico effluent chamber. While this is normally enough time to have turbidity settle, the system was built with the capacity to add alum above Kensico Reservoir during extreme turbidity events to coagulate and more rapidly settle the particles that cause turbidity.

The 2002 and 2007 FADs required the City to explore options that might reduce turbidity levels in the water entering the Catskill system, and thereby reduce use of alum. The City contracted with Gannett Fleming/Hazen and Sawyer Joint Venture (JV) (along with JV sub-consultants Upstate Freshwater Institute and HydroLogics, Inc.) to perform the Catskill Turbidity Control Study. The overall goal of this extensive effort is to reduce the potential impact of turbiditylevels in the Catskill system on finished water quality while reducing the frequency and duration of alum treatment events. To generalize, this effort involved the collection of tremendous amount of hydrological and water quality data on streams and reservoirs, and these data were used to quantify turbidity-flow relationships and solids loading. Next, the data were used to calibrate, verify, and utilize linked hydrodynamic and simulation water quality models, which were in turn related and linked to various water system operation scenarios using separate models.

This study was conducted in three phases. Phase I was completed in 2004 largely using existing data and formed the conceptual basis for the future work. Phase II was completed in 2006 and evaluated a Multi-Level Intake, In-Reservoir Baffle, and Modification of Reservoir Operations as a means to reduce the transport of turbidity from Schoharie Reservoir into the lower part of the Catskill system. Based on the Phase II study, modified reservoir operations was selected as the most effective and cost effective tool. The results of the Phase II study were implemented as a requirement of the 2007 FAD. In addition, the FAD required the City to conduct a Phase III study to evaluate engineering and structural alternatives at the Ashokan Reservoir to reduce the level of turbidity entering the Catskill Aqueduct, then develop a plan to implement the findings of the Phase III study. The 2007 FAD also required complete dredging of the Schoharie Reservoir intake channel.

Evaluation of the NYC Water System's Performance

The Phase I and II management options to control turbidity from exiting Schoharie Reservoir included dredging accumulated silt near the intake chamber and modified operations related to the Shandaken Tunnel SPDES permit, with a goal of banking cold water for late season conservation releases to the Upper Esopus. The dredging was completed in 2008.

The Phase III study, which was completed in December 2007, was designed to systematically evaluate and compare various options to reduce the amount of turbidity that enters Kensico from Ashokan Reservoir following major runoff events, thereby reducing the need for alum treatments. The evaluated options included: a West Basin Outlet Structure, Dividing Weir Crest Gates, East Basin Diversion Wall, Upper Gate Chamber Modifications, a new East Basin Intake, and Catskill Aqueduct Improvements that could help facilitate various Modified Operations.

The Phase III study concluded that modifying the overall water system's operations, in conjunction with implementing specific Catskill Aqueduct improvements, is the most effective and economical option to control turbidity entering Kensico Reservoir from the Catskill system. The goal of this option is to use the Catskill Aqueduct as little as possible when only high turbidity water is available. The West Basin Outlet Structure and Dividing Weir Crest Gates were deemed too costly and only marginally effective compare to the options ultimately selected. The East Basin Diversion Wall and a new East Basin Intake would have been very costly, and modeling demonstrated that these new structural elements would largely just change the direction of the turbidity plume on its way to the aqueduct intake.

Based on the results of the Phase III study, and in accordance with the 2007 FAD, the City developed the Catskill Turbidity Control Phase III Implementation Plan, which was submitted July 2008. This plan focused on the following tools to help minimize the amount of turbid water delivered from the Ashokan Reservoir to Kensico: 1) improving stop shutter facilities in the Catskill Aqueduct to minimize flow of turbid water down the aqueduct while still supplying communities that are served by the aqueduct (estimated completion December 2014); 2) constructing an interconnection between the Delaware and Catskill Aqueducts at Shaft 4 of the Delaware Aqueduct (estimated completion March 2015); 3) diverting low turbidity water from the West Basin down the aqueduct to maintain capacity in the basin to capture storm runoff; and 4) diverting turbid water from the West Basin using the existing waste channel. This plan was approved by NYSDOH, EPA, and NYSDEC in November 2010.

In order to optimize system operations to minimize use of turbid Catskill water while still maintaining water supply reliability, the City is developing an Operations Support Tool (OST). The OST is a computer model that allows the City to weigh its various water system management options with a goal of maximizing water quality while sustaining adequate water quantity. Work on the OST is underway, and the City has already used a preliminary version to manage systems operations during a number of turbidity events in the Catskill system and to aid planning of the Gilboa Dam construction project. Future versions of the OST will utilize realtime hydrologic, water quality, and meteorological data, and state-of-the-art forecasting. The final OST is expected to come on-line in October 2013.

NYSDOH and EPA believe that the City has adequately satisfied the requirements for the Catskill Turbidity Control Program for the first five-year period of the 2007 FAD. Use of the OST has already enabled the City to reduce use of alum during periods of high turbidity in the Catskill system. Completion of the stop shutter improvements, Shaft 4 interconnection, and the Croton Water Filtration Plant will increase the City's flexibility to maintain the quality and quantity of water serving the NYC system during these periods in the future. However, since the Catskill Turbidity Control Study was performed, a constraint on the City's use of the waste channel has developed that was not considered during development of the Catskill Turbidity Control Phase III Implementation Plan. Due to a series of severe storms in the Catskill watershed during the fall and winter of 2010, water in the Ashokan Reservoir remained highly turbid for months. In accordance with the City's plan, stop shutters were installed to minimize flow of Catskill water to Kensico, and turbid water from the West Basin was diverted down the waste channel to prevent that water from reaching the East Basin. As a result of this extended use of the waste channel, residents of the Lower Esopus Creek became concerned about the impacts of the sustained turbid discharge on the environment and the economy of the Lower Esopus region. The City is currently supporting an investigation of these potential impacts and is developing formal operating rules for use of the waste channel, which will be enforceable under the City's SPDES Permit for the Catskill Aqueduct Influent Chamber. Implementation of these operating rules may require the City to reevaluate its options for controlling Catskill turbidity.