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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy 7 Land Acquisition and Land Use Planning This chapter focuses on the use of nonstructural protection strategies for watershed management. As mentioned in Chapter 4, nonstructural protection strategies specify how watershed land can or should be used to prevent pollution of source waters. In publicly owned watersheds, nonstructural protection strategies are unnecessary for the most part, because the drinking water utility can limit access to critical areas and maintain pristine conditions. However, in watersheds such as New York City's that have a substantial population and where much of the land is in private hands, nonstructural protection strategies play a major role in watershed management. Nonstructural protection strategies in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) consist of two main programs: (1) the Land Acquisition Program and (2) the Watershed Protection and Partnership Programs. These programs were designed to accommodate the desire to maintain high water quality in the water supply reservoirs while allowing economic growth in the watershed area. This chapter reviews and critiques several plans concerning land acquisition and management of the acquired lands, land use, and economic development in the watershed communities. Although these issues were not originally part of the study mandate, land use and economic development planning are critical to the MOA's goals of source water protection, economic development in the watershed region, and filtration avoidance and hence were considered by the committee. LAND ACQUISITION Purchasing private land is one of the most important nonstructural tools used to protect a watershed. New York City's Land Acquisition and Stewardship
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy program is a key component of the watershed management strategy (MOA, Article II). Unlike the Watershed Rules and Regulations, which are meant to curb current pollutant loading, this program is designed to prevent future contamination of the water supply. The Land Acquisition Program allows New York City to acquire land through selective outright purchase or through the use of conservation easements. A conservation easement is a covenant that limits or restricts development, management, or use of property, protects important natural features of property, and provides the landowner with certain retained rights (NYC DEP, 1997). As part of its filtration avoidance determination, the City must solicit interest by owners of 355,050 acres of land in the Catskill/Delaware watershed over the next ten years and commit $250 million to this effort. (The City is also contacting owners of land in the Croton watershed, but there are no acreage goals.) Lands are being purchased only from willing sellers and for full market price, as appraised by independent, certified appraisal companies under contract with the City. This is unusual because the City has a legal right (through the State health codes) to take lands in the watershed region by eminent domain. However, it has agreed not to do so as an explicit concession in the MOA. In order to protect the budgetary base of watershed towns and villages, New York City is paying property taxes on the land it now owns and on all new land and conservation easements it acquires. (For conservation easements, the amount of property tax the City will pay is proportional to the value of the easement relative to the overall property value.) The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) will be granted a conservation easement on all lands acquired by the City to ensure lands are held in perpetuity in an undeveloped state. There can be no residential structures on the land purchased, though there may be accessory structures and uninhabitable dwellings. Prioritization of Watershed Areas New York City has developed a priority list of lands for acquisition based on their proximity to reservoirs, reservoir intakes, and the drinking water distribution system (Figure 7-1). The five levels of priority for the Catskill/Delaware watershed, and the amount land from each that will be solicited, are given in Table 7-1. West-of-Hudson parcels in Priority Area 1A must be at least one acre, while Area 1B parcels must be at least five acres. The minimum acreage requirement for all other priority areas is ten acres. Both the Kensico and West Branch Reservoir basins, which have no minimum acreage requirements, are included in this prioritization scheme as key elements of the Catskill/Delaware system, although they are physically located in the Croton watershed. Yearly solicitation goals for the program are given in Table 7-2. Like the Catskill/Delaware watershed, the Croton watershed is divided into priority areas based on reservoir basin and travel time. Priority Area A includes
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy FIGURE 7-1 (A) Land acquisition areas in the Catskill/Delaware watershed. Source: NYC DEP (1997).
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy FIGURE 7-1 (B) Land acquisition areas in the West Branch and Kensico watersheds. Courtesy of the NYC DEP.
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy TABLE 7-1 Priority Categories for Land Acquisition Priority Areas Definition of Area Minimum Acreage Solicitation Acreage Goals 1A Subbasins within 60-day travel timea to the distribution system that are near intakes 1 (West-of-Hudson) 61,750 (1A and 1B combined) 1B Subbasins within 60-day travel time to the distribution system that are not near intakes 5 61,750 (1A and 1B combined) 2 Subbasins within terminal reservoir basins that are not within priority areas 1A and 1B 10 42,300 3 Subbasins with identified water quality problems that are not in priority areas 1A, 1B, and 2 10 96,000 4 All remaining subbasins in nonterminal reservoir basins 10 155,000 a See Chapter 11 for a thorough discussion of the 60-day travel-time delineation. Note: Parcels in priority areas 2, 3, and 4 must: • Be at least partially located within 1,000 feet of a reservoir, or • Be at least partially located within the 100-year floodplain, or • Be at least partially located within 300 feet of a watercourse, or • Contain in whole or in part a federal jurisdictional wetland greater than five acres in size or a NYS DEC mapped wetland, or • Contain ground slopes greater than 15 percent. Source: Budrock (1997). TABLE 7-2 Catskill and Delaware Watershed Land Solicitation Goals Under the MOA Year Acres Solicited to Acquire Fee Title or Conservation Easement Annual Goal Cumulative Total 1 56,609 56,609 2 51,266 107,875 3 42,733 150,608 4 52,846 203,454 5 55,265 258,719 6 48,531 307,250 7 0 307,250 8 47,800 355,050 9 0 355,050 10 0 355,050
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy the New Croton, Croton Falls, and Cross River Reservoir basins. Area B includes Muscoot Reservoir basin and portions of Amawalk and Titicus Reservoir basins within a 60-day travel time to the distribution system. Area C includes all remaining reservoir basins and subbasins beyond the 60-day travel-time boundary. In the Croton watershed, property that is zoned commercial or industrial as of the date of the City's solicitation is generally (but not always) excluded from acquisition, and all acquired property must be vacant. New York State has also committed $7.5 million to purchase lands or watershed conservation easements in the Croton watershed. After purchase, land ownership is transferred to New York City, which is then responsible for paying property taxes. Local communities in the Catskill/Delaware watershed were given the option of designating lands around existing population centers to be excluded from acquisition by fee, but not from acquisition of watershed conservation easements. Towns were allowed to delineate the boundaries of existing hamlets and exclude these areas if desired, while villages were allowed to exclude all village land. These exclusions, made available to local communities to allow for reasonable growth and to preserve community character, are shown in Figure 7-2. Meeting Filtration Avoidance Determination Milestones The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) has achieved success in the Land Acquisition Program to date. All the solicitation goals in the filtration avoidance determination have been met. As of June 30, 1999, NYC DEP had 15,380 acres under contract for a purchase price of $40.4 million (NYC DEP, 1999a). This represents about four percent of the total land area that must be solicited under the program. To date, no land has been purchased in the Kensico watershed, the most important target in terms of water quality protection. Reasons for the lack of success in Kensico include the cost of land, the limited amount of land eligible under the program (1,000 acres), and lack of seller interest (Marx and Goldstein, 1999: Miele, 1999). New York City should consider spending more than fair market value to acquire lands in this critical watershed. Related Programs Flood Buyout Program NYC DEP and Delaware County are cooperating in a flood buyout program in which the City can purchase land underlying flood-damaged residences in the watershed as part of the general Land Acquisition Program. Interested landowners are given the opportunity to receive the pre-flood value of their homes and land, while the City pays only for the land. The balance of the purchase price is funded by Hazard Mitigation Grants administered by the Federal Emergency
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy FIGURE 7-2 Towns and villages exempt from the Land Acquisition Program. Courtesy of the NYC DEP.
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy Management Agency. As of the end of June 1998, 73 interested homeowners had applied to the County to participate in this program. After being prioritized by the County and NYC DEP, the first purchase was completed in July and ten additional purchase contracts have been completed (NYC DEP, 1999a). Agricultural Easements A program to acquire watershed agricultural easements has very recently been established by the MOA to protect sensitive agricultural lands and to promote pollution prevention among farmers. It is envisioned that this program would assist in the intergenerational transfer of farmlands and operations. The Watershed Agricultural Council is responsible for landowner outreach and contact, working closely with NYC DEP to survey, appraise, and close agreements associated with agricultural easements. The City has committed $10 million out of the $250 million Catskill/Delaware Land Acquisition Program for watershed agricultural easements and $10 million for forested lands on farms. The easements are to be held in perpetuity by the Watershed Agricultural Council. Stewardship Stewardship under the Land Acquisition Program concerns the management of previously acquired lands. The City has agreed to consult with NYS DEC, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), local governments, and the Sporting Advisory Subcommittee (established in the MOA for both East- and West-of-Hudson watersheds) concerning appropriate recreational uses of newly acquired and already owned lands. Guidance for recreational uses of New York City-owned land has recently been proposed (NYC DEP, 1999b). Traditional recreational uses such as fishing, hiking, and hunting (currently allowed on City-owned land in the Cannonsville watershed on a limited basis) are likely to be allowed to continue, subject to permits, rules, and regulations. Other activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, bird watching, and nature study are likely to be allowed in certain areas and under certain conditions. It is highly unlikely that boating (other than rowboats permitted for fishing), snowmobiling, camping, motorcycling, horseback riding, and mountain bike riding will be permitted. Policies are also being developed by NYC DEP related to (1) public access to newly acquired lands and (2) forest and resources management on watershed lands. Land Trusts An alternative to outright land purchase is the land trust. Across the United States, tens of thousands of acres of open space are owned by land trusts. A land trust is a nonprofit legal entity established under state law that buys, manages,
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy and occasionally sells or leases interests in undeveloped real estate. Land trusts typically focus on particular communities or regions from which they draw their boards of directors and officers. Some are large enough to maintain a full-time office and staff, while others depend on volunteers to administer their program and manage their properties. Properties may be held in fee simple or some form of less than fee interest (e.g., a conservation easement). Land trusts frequently cooperate with governmental land agencies such as state departments of natural resources or local conservation commissions. A land trust may be able to act quickly to acquire a key parcel of land and hold it until a governmental agency has the funds on hand to buy it from the land trust, or the land trust may hold the deed or conservation easement in perpetuity. However, nonprofit land trusts would not pay taxes on the land unless special agreements were made with local government. The Trust for the Public Land (TPL), a signatory to the MOA and a national nonprofit land conservation organization with offices in New York City, is actively acquiring land in the Croton and Catskill/Delaware watersheds. Recently, the TPL purchased 610 acres of undeveloped land in the town of Hunter (west of the Hudson River) and 100 acres for the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development (CCCD). In Putnam County, TPL protected 794 acres of steeply sloping undeveloped land surrounding 30-acre spring-fed Wonder Lake in collaboration with the Open Space Institute. The outfall from the lake is a tributary to the Croton reservoir system. In this case, TPL and the Open Space Institute purchased the land on behalf of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. The land will become Wonder Lake State Park. Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program Analysis Prioritization Scheme Because New York City cannot purchase all the private land in the watersheds, a prioritization scheme has been developed. Ideally, prioritization of lands for purchase should depend on two criteria: (1) location of land areas with respect to reservoirs and waterways and (2) land use, with an emphasis of those activities that produce pollutants. NYC DEP has established a prioritization scheme based primarily on the first criterion. (This means first priority has been given to lands in the Kensico and West Branch watersheds, which are important given their locations within the system.) Under the current scheme, land use is not a factor in prioritizing lands for purchase. This scheme may be appropriate for relatively nonmobile pollutants such as particulate phosphorus. However, many other pollutants, such as soluble phosphorus, nitrogen, and solvents, are considerably more mobile and can travel long distances in streams. The importance of land use in prioritizing lands for acquisition was recently demonstrated in areas of Virginia draining into the Chesapeake Bay. The con-
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy ventional wisdom in this area was that lands closest to the bay were contributing the most pollution. On that basis, the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act was passed, requiring counties east of Interstate-95 to incorporate into their land use plans buffers around agricultural land, wetlands, and waterways. Computer modeling of the Virginia portion of the watershed later showed that lands higher up in the watershed were contributing a much larger proportion of the nutrient loading to the watershed than had been expected (Virginia DEQ, 1998). Unfortunately, the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act did not regulate activities in these upland and headwater areas. Without computer modeling of nonpoint source pollution, it can be difficult to know which lands are contributing or could potentially contribute the most pollution. Published information about the Land Acquisition Program does not adequately explain the analytical methods used to set priorities and make decisions at the scale of individual tax parcels. As mentioned in Chapter 6, an advanced Geographic Information System (GIS) has many options for watershed characterization that could be used to better prioritize lands for acquisition. In addition, NYC DEP has recently developed and tested the Generalized Watershed Loading Function (GWLF) model for predicting nutrient loads to the reservoirs based on different land uses (NYC DEP, 1998). This model, or the Reckhow model, could be used to identify and delineate significant polluting areas in the Catskill/Delaware watershed. Such analyses could be used to refine the current prioritization scheme. This would be particularly useful for Priority Area 3 subbasins, which must have ''identified water quality problems." This general description, which allows NYC DEP flexibility in deciding which lands to purchase, could be refined by acquiring site-specific information on land use using the computer modeling described above. Size Requirements From an administrative point of view, it is probably sensible to pursue only the larger pieces of land. However, it is possible that there are areas critical to water quality that are smaller than the one-acre, five-acre, and ten-acre sizes set as lower limits for participation in the program. It is also questionable to rule out lands for acquisition when the overall goal of the program is to acquire as much land as possible. Tax Considerations Because real property taxes are the principal source of revenue for towns, villages, and school districts in New York State, local governments are very concerned about the amount of property removed from the tax rolls when it is purchased by a nonprofit organization or municipality. Real property tax receipts account for about half the revenues of these governmental units and about a
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy fourth of revenues for county government. Real property taxes have the advantage of being a broadly based tax on a resource that is relatively immobile, although it should be noted that property taxes are typically based on the market value of the property, which may have little or no relationship to current uses. To help retain the tax base of the watershed, NYC DEP will be paying taxes on all acquired land. However, the same is not true for land sold to a land trust, unless it transfers the land to New York City. Removing land from possible future development can also potentially decrease local tax revenues, capital improvements, and economic activity and jobs associated with businesses that might have located on acquired properties. This is a potential loss of funds that is not balanced by fees paid by the City on all acquired lands. It is possible to offset some of these losses in the long run by using tax incentives to help commercial development locate in a particular county, town, or village. Many economic development programs attract new business by waiving or decreasing local property taxes for a set length of time (e.g., 10-20 years) because of the promise of enhanced future revenue from other taxes. There are other ways that local tax policy and, to some degree, state tax policy can be used to shape the character of future development. In the New York City watersheds, tax policy might be an effective tool for diffusing tensions between economic growth and maintenance of high water quality. This might be accomplished by shifting the share of new development costs from the general taxpayer to the developer, which would be an important political challenge. It should be kept in mind that while such policies can be used to protect important environmental resources, they can also be viewed as antigrowth and thus as inconsistent with some public values within the community. Conclusions and Recommendations for Land Acquisition NYC DEP should make greater use of the GIS and available land use/nonpoint source computer models (like the GWLF) to determine more precisely which areas within Priority Area 3 in the Catskill/Delaware watershed are contributing to water quality problems. Although land use modeling in the Catskill/Delaware watershed has been conducted as part of the Total Maximum Daily Load Program, this information does not appear to have influenced the prioritization of lands for the Land Acquisition Program. Thus, there is no way of knowing whether the current prioritization scheme will capture the areas contributing the most pollution. The application of GIS in support of the Land Acquisition Program should include relevant spatial and temporal data and process descriptions. For example, the GIS could be used to integrate data on slope, soil suitability for on-site sewage treatment and disposal systems (OSTDS), erosion potential, and ownership to determine which lands should be targeted for acquisition.
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy BOX 7-3 CWC Watershed Protection and Development Programs The CWC is a nonprofit organization made up of a specified number of representatives from West-of-Hudson communities, members appointed by the State governor, and one New York City employee appointed by the mayor. Over the next 15 years, the CWC will preside over the expenditure of $240 million in New York City-provided funds for infrastructure, economic development, conservation, education, and operations. One of the largest expenditures, $59.7 million over 15 years, is earmarked for the Catskill Fund for the Future, a program that supports responsible, environmentally sensitive economic development. In addition, funds are to be expended for infrastructure improvements that could be conducive to environmental protection as well as economic development, e.g., construction of new WWTPs or community septic systems as well as the formation of septic districts. Finally, more than $80 million is available for a variety of infrastructure improvements and educational and conservation efforts that are likely to have positive water quality impacts. The CWC has established a number of standing and ad hoc advisory committees for specific areas of concern in the watershed. These committees integrate varied interests and experts into the process of planning and administering watershed development. For example, the Tax Advisory Committee is made up of town and tax attorneys, appraisers and evaluation consultants who advise the CWC's Land Committee regarding tax rules. The Sporting Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives of sporting and recreational organizations. This committee reviewed 85 parcels targeted for acquisition by New York City, recommending recreational uses for the properties. Septic Rehabilitation and Replacement. This program concentrates on repairing septic systems identified as failing throughout the Catskill and Delaware watershed areas. A total of 673 systems have been repaired or replaced at a cost of over $4 million. Another 575 systems are either under review, design, or construction. Following high demand for this program, the CWC Board of Directors voted in December 1998 to restrict participation in the program to homeowners who received Notices of Violation of Failure from NYC DEP prior to January 1, 1999. In order to evaluate the operation of the septic program, in May 1998, the CWC established a Technical Working Group to study the program's impact on water quality and assess the likelihood of failure of septic systems throughout the West-of-Hudson watershed. Effective July 1, 1999, the CWC is focusing on priority areas such as the 60-day travel-time zones.
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy Sand and Salt Storage. The CWC will fund and supervise the construction of 31 municipal sand and salt storage facilities throughout the watersheds as provided for in the MOA. Through October 1999, nine facilities have been completed. Stormwater Controls. In June 1998, the CWC adopted rules for the West-of-Hudson Future Stormwater Controls Program, which provides funds for BMPs to limit and control runoff of stormwater and pollutants from impervious surfaces. Through September 1999, CWC has paid $199,000 to fund construction projects for stormwater control plans and erosion management devices required under NYC DEP regulation of new construction. In 1999, the CWC's Wastewater Committee developed rules for the Stormwater Retrofit Program to address existing stormwater problems throughout the watersheds. Economic Development Study. The CWC appointed a Steering committee to work with the consulting firm hired to complete the economic development study called for in the MOA. The CWC Board of Directors adopted a plan for the expenditures from the $59.7 million Catskill Fund for the Future in July 1999. Business Loans. The CWC has loaned ten businesses a total of $1,545,000 to assist in the expansion and improvement. The CWC Board of Directors made these loans as an interim measure while awaiting results of the economic development study. Tourism Grants. The CWC allocated $250,000 to tourism agencies throughout the watershed. A fourth of these funds were invested in regional tourism promotion efforts. Funds were also used for promotional materials such as advertising, travel guides, and signage. Environmental Financial Incentive Awards. To date, the CWC has made one grant for $27,000 to a children's clothing manufacturing firm for the installation of equipment to recycle up to 12,000 gallons of wastewater per day, eliminating chlorine and neutralizing dye that had been discharged to a City-run WWTP. Watershed Education. The CWC awarded $100,000 to 13 schools and nonprofit organizations. The targeted audience in this first round of grants was school-age children and their teachers in West-of-Hudson communi-
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy ties and New York City. A second round of grants worth $200,000 was made in May 1999. Watershed Regional Museum. For the design and fabrication of museum exhibits for the Watershed Museum, CWC allocated $1 million. Commemorative Project. The CWC established an advisory committee to explore the possibility of erecting informational kiosks and historic markers at six West-of-Hudson reservoirs. The project is intended to commemorate the communities that were moved or disincorporated in order to build the reservoirs and to explain New York City's extensive water supply system. are required for various types of regulated activities. This program is based at the CWC office and has established a toll-free number that residents can call to obtain information. The CWC and NYS DOS also cooperate with a network of New York State and federal agencies to provide specialized regulatory and compliance-related information to watershed residents, villages, and towns. Analysis of Planning Efforts Assessing the quality of comprehensive plans and various planning efforts can be a substantial challenge. Professional planners can often differentiate high quality from low quality, but they are hard-pressed to explicitly define the key characteristics of plan quality (Berke and French, 1994). Given the diversity of opinion about what a plan is and how it is to be used, a standardized evaluation of the plans outlined in the MOA is not possible. Because these plans will be implemented after this report is published, their effect on the communities in the watershed region can only be estimated. However, some constructive comments on the plans being developed by the watershed communities are made, based on professional judgment informed by years of experience in different settings. Considerations regarding plan implementation are also discussed. Croton Plans The Croton Plans developed by Westchester and Putnam counties are taking quite different approaches. The Westchester County planning effort is a compre-
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy hensive, fully integrated process. It considers the complexity inherent in implementing future recommendations by looking at problems from both a political perspective (using town boundaries) as well as from a water resource perspective (using subwatershed boundaries). This creative approach should be emulated by other counties. Hopefully, the result of this process will be land use regulations with budgetary implications that are well understood by all stakeholders. The Putnam County planning process appears to address the full range of management and regulatory tools and investment opportunities relating to maintenance and improvement of water quality. While the data compilation and analysis are largely the responsibility of the county, and NYC DEP has some ability to present its analyses and perspective, the towns are required to develop the management, regulatory, and investment proposals. This division of responsibilities for plan formulation and evaluation is awkward and is unlikely to produce the most productive array of actions. This is because towns, which are responsible for plan development, will not have access to all of the data compiled at the county level, which in turn may result in conflicting county and town goals. Implementation of economic development plans is most successful when local citizens have broad access to information. This problem may be partially alleviated because the Croton Plan requires the agreement of all parties. Although both the county and NYC DEP have veto power in principle, there will likely be pressure to defer to town proposals. A significant issue is found under work item 3 in Phase II of the Putnam County Statement of Work: "To economize on limited assets, priority may be given to those investments which help maintain community character and meet community needs, while helping to achieve the water quality goals. In addition, to the extent available, [NYC] DEP's estimates of the future water quality of each basin…may be considered so that priority may be given to these measures which will achieve the greatest relative benefit to the basin." This footnote is a clear affirmation that the real emphasis of the Putnam County Croton Plan is on meeting community needs however they may be defined, with water quality impacts as a constraining factor. Such an approach may be the only politically feasible one, but it makes achieving reservoir quality objectives more problematic—particularly given the distribution of responsibilities in the Putnam County Scope of Work. West-of-Hudson Plans As noted earlier, there are several challenges that comprehensive planning and land use planning must overcome in the Catskill/Delaware watershed. First, many of the towns are very small—approximately 80 percent have a population of less than 2,000, with the population being spread over a large area fragmented by mountain ridges. Villages, generally comprised of small clusters of houses, are even smaller. Thus, the staff resources of local governments are correspond-
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy ingly small. Most towns do not have a professional planner on staff, but rely on volunteer citizen planning and zoning boards or hire consultants to develop the required plans. Comprehensive plans and/or zoning ordinances are available in approximately half of the watershed towns (Table 7-4). Although in most rural areas this level of planning is appropriate, the emphasis on planning found in the MOA in effect mandates a change in the status quo. Fortunately, with the slow rate of growth projected by the economic development study, communities should have time to develop their plans. There are three important issues in West-of-Hudson planning considered below: fragmentation of planning efforts, citizen participation, and plan implementation. Some of these problems could be overcome through the use of a regional planning agency. The CWC could be such an organization, because it plays a critical role in economic development and it administers a wide range of programs that can favorably influence community development. Fragmentation. The planning efforts under way in the West-of-Hudson communities are fragmented. None of the plans required by the MOA is truly "comprehensive" in that it considers housing, transportation, public utilities, environmental conditions, and other relevant factors. Rather, the RFPs issued for new wastewater treatment facilities and sewer extensions reveal a largely engineering focus. There are calculations of growth, assumed from historic growth patterns, and designs of wastewater systems to handle the projected growth. But there is no clear integration of planning efforts needed to prevent duplication, inadvertent omission of important issues, or inconsistent assumptions. For instance, it is not clear that economic planning being done at the county and regional levels is taking into consideration the housing that will be required of those taking advantage of new economic opportunities, as well as the additional wastewater that will accompany the new housing. The institutional arrangement of counties, town, and villages within the watershed region creates additional complexities in achieving an integrated cohesive plan for development (see Box 7-2). A town represents an entire geographic region rather than just a cluster of residential and commercial areas, necessitating town governments to take agricultural and silvicultural practices into account along with urban services. Many small-town governments are not equipped to manage these additional issues. Villages are free to create their own plans, though they must file them with the county. Counties are left to integrate village and town plans into comprehensive plans or to mediate the differences between plans of neighboring areas. Fortunately, the central role of the CWC and the planning assistance offered by the NYS DOS will be useful in overcoming fragmentation of plans across watershed regions. Economic development is being advanced primarily through the Catskill Fund for the Future, as administered by the CWC. It is not clear how this process is being coordinated with the other required planning efforts. This is due, in part,
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy to that fact that it is very difficult to know where some types of economic development, such as specialized manufacturing, will occur. However, integration of these efforts would be beneficial. Economic revitalization of the villages and their promotion for tourism should mesh with the planning for wastewater treatment services, and the consultants hired to do such planning should make sure the efforts are integrated. Citizen Participation. Citizen participation is a key component in planning efforts, even those deemed to be highly technical. L. Robert Neville, in discussing his experience working with stakeholders to protect the natural resources of Sterling Forest in New York and New Jersey, found that: "Effective watershed management at the local level is far more dependent on social and economic variables than on watershed science. Full community support is needed in order to create the necessary changes in land use law and policies that will institutionalize the protection of natural systems and processes during development and ensure their continued health through comprehensive natural resource management." (Neville, 1999) Watershed planning has come to be thought of as an iterative process, in which citizen and stakeholder input enters the decision-making process on a recurring basis: "Long term, effective watershed management requires 25 percent science and technology and 75 percent human psychology and sociology" (Bowers, 1999). There are three forces that currently prohibit society from achieving watershed stewardship: (1) fragmentation of knowledge about the system, (2) unwillingness to change present behavior and practices, and (3) a belief that human ingenuity and technology can solve problems of resource depletion or scarcity (Cairns and Pratt, 1992). Watershed stewardship is better served by convincing people to adopt new ways of behaving that will sustain high water quality than it is by involving citizens for short, sporadic exercises. Simply put, current planning efforts in the Catskill/Delaware region, as outlined in the MOA, do not require a level of citizen participation sufficient to overcome these forces. Plan Implementation. The last step in the planning process is implementation. It involves zoning, site reviews, subdivision ordinances, and regulations. A common assumption is that once a planning document and its implementing regulations are adopted, they will be followed. However, this is not always the case. When outside consultants prepare comprehensive plans, as opposed to community members, there is a greater tendency for these plans to not be implemented. This occurs because such plans often are developed without significant local input and oversight. Clearly, the commitment needed to implement comprehensive plans and their associated regulations must come from involved and informed citizens. Recent research on the success of implementing environmental plans and
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy their regulations shows a widespread lack of compliance (Brower and Ballenger, 1991; Burby and Patterson, 1993; Promersberger, 1984). For example, Johnston and McCartney (1991) have reported widespread violations of the mitigation requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. In the Catskill/Delaware watershed, where New York City is depending on the implementation of comprehensive plans and watershed regulations, ensuring compliance will be a challenge. This is especially problematic when the cost of complying with regulations outweighs any direct benefits to the developer. In such cases, deterrence may be necessary. Compliance with specifications and standards can be improved with greater use of deterrence, specifically frequent inspections to detect violations (Burby and Patterson, 1993). Successful plan implementation also depends on the degree to which regulators can implement a cooperative approach. This means allowing adequate time for regulators at the office to review plans, for review in the field using preconstruction conferences, and for negotiation to resolve disagreements. Burby et al. (1998) found ''effective enforcement is a function of multiple, interrelated agency activities and capabilities. Effective enforcement is most likely to occur in an agency employing a facilitative enforcement philosophy with (1) an adequate number of technically competent staff, (2) strong proactive leadership, (3) adequate legal support, and (4) a consistently strong effort to check building and development plans, inspect building and development sites, and provide technical assistance." The CWC could foster successful plan implementation by providing workshops for contractors and builders as part of the ongoing education programs and by providing the necessary legal support. Economic Development As described in Chapter 1, there are fundamental tensions between land management to promote economic development and land management to sustain or enhance water quality. The Economic Development Study recognizes this challenge and attempts to promote environmentally sensitive economic development. The study is comprehensive, exhaustive, and well-thought-out. It takes into account the problems of limited land for building, the narrow road system found throughout much of the region, and the established farming, mining, and forest products industries. The three volumes of work (HR&A, 1998a–c) maintain that the region will experience only slow growth, allowing time for needed adjustments. There was a general lack of discussion on chemical and waste management needs of future residential, commercial, or industrial development. Undoubtedly, some of the suggested commercial development funded by the Catskill Fund for the Future will generate hazardous materials that will require proper disposal. However, no special requirements are outlined for handling or storing the materials to prevent or capture spills. Many organic solvents have the potential to
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy volatilize and eventually pollute nearby waterways. Other pathways of contaminant migration are also significant in this region, as most of the developable land is prone to flooding (HR&A, 1998c). Specialty industrial development may require current water and wastewater facilities to install new technology or more equipment. This is an issue that requires considerable further attention from the CWC in choosing projects for the Catskill Fund for the Future. Conclusions and Recommendations for Land Use Planning Although it is too early to evaluate the net result of planning efforts, several general recommendations are offered. Perhaps the most important strength is that most programs are locally operated and locally driven and hence are better able to respond to the needs of watershed communities. It is important to emphasize that the effectiveness of watershed management will be enhanced by comprehensive planning. The CWC should review local and county plans for the watershed areas to make sure they are compatible and are working in a coordinated and integrated fashion. The fragmented planning efforts called for in the MOA for the Catskill/Delaware watershed may produce less-than-optimal results. One solution would be to create comprehensive plans for those watershed towns that do not have them and to review and update existing plans for neighboring communities to be in accord with the newly created plans. At the next level, counties should attempt to integrate the plans for the towns and villages within its jurisdiction, and the CWC should review the county plans for compatibility and workability. The mission of the CWC should be expanded so that it can play a greater role in strengthening local planning efforts of smaller West-of-Hudson communities. The CWC can provide for meaningful citizen involvement, can provide technical assistance to support local implementation and enforcement, and can provide a template for local watershed plans. The CWC and the New York State Department of State should continue to assist citizen planning boards in plan-making and decision-making. The CWC should foster involvement by local communities in planning efforts undertaken by consultants. The CWC and the NYS DOS should continue to offer citizen planning boards technical assistance in determining the long-term impact of proposed plans. The CWC should use external review of funding requests for grants. About 20 percent of the Catskill Fund for the Future is for grants to help commu-
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy nities and others. To ensure an open and fair process, external review of funding requests should be established. Because of the constraints enumerated by the Economic Development Study, future growth in the Catskill/Delaware watershed region is likely to be slow. There are a limited number of areas in the watershed where growth can occur. Many of these areas are also targeted by the Land Acquisition Program in order to protect water quality. The growth areas identified by the study are in keeping with the spirit of the MOA. The CWC and NYC DEP should identify social and economic factors that should be monitored to help determine whether the Watershed Partnership and Protection Programs are effective. As mentioned in Chapter 4, although they are frequently overlooked, social and economic factors are often key to the success of watershed management. Some parameters are currently being monitored as part of the MOA, including acreage of land acquired and economic trends in the watershed (via the Economic Development Study). Other parameters that should be considered for monitoring in the New York City watersheds include population growth in the watershed (both permanent and seasonal population), types and sizes of new development, and awareness levels of watershed citizens with regard to the MOA and watershed management. In particular, the latter metric could help direct educational resources to less-well-informed watershed residents, thereby increasing public participation in the Watershed Partnership and Protection Programs. REFERENCES Berke, P. R., and S. P. French. 1994. The influence of state planning mandates on local plan quality. Journal of Planning Education and Research 13(4):237–250. Bowers, J. L. 1999. Watershed management: It's not just a job, it's a way of life. Water Resources Impact 1(1):11–13. Brower, D. J., and G. G. Ballenger. 1991. Permit Compliance Assessment. Prepared for the Division of Coastal Management, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources. Chapel Hill, NC: Center for Urban and Regional Studies, University of North Carolina. Budrock, H. 1997. Summary Guide to the Terms of the Watershed Agreement. Arkville, NY: The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Inc. in collaboration with the Catskill Watershed Corporation. Burby, R. J., P. J. May, and R. Patterson. 1998. Improving compliance with regulations: Choices and outcomes for local government. Journal of the American Planning Association 64(3):324–334. Burby, R. J., and R. Patterson. 1993. Improving compliance with state environmental regulations. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 12(4):753–772. Cairns, J. J., and J. R. Pratt. 1992. Restoring ecosystem health and integrity during a human population increase to ten billion. Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health 1:59–68.
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC). 1997. Economic Development Consultant, Request for Proposal. Margaretville, NY, Catskill Watershed Corporation, October 28, 1997. Margaretville, NY: Catskill Watershed Corporation. CWC. 1999. Watershed Advocate 1(1). Margaretville, NY: Catskill Watershed Corporation. Hamilton, Rabinovitz and Altschuler, Inc. 1998a. West of the Hudson Economic Development Study for the Catskill Watershed Corporation Report 1: Baseline Economic Analysis and Community Assessment. Prepared by Hamilton, Rabinovitz and Altschuler, Inc., Alle King, Rosen and Fleming, Fairweather Consulting, The Saratoga Associates, and Shepstone Management. June 22, 1998. Hamilton, Rabinovitz and Altschuler, Inc. 1998b. West of the Hudson Economic Development Study for the Catskill Watershed Corporation Report 2: Market Sector Assessment & Program Issues Analysis. Prepared by Hamilton, Rabinovitz, and Altschuler, Inc., Alle King, Rosen and Fleming, Fairweather Consulting, The Saratoga Associates, and Shepstone Management. September 25, 1998. Hamilton, Rabinovitz and Altschuler, Inc. 1998c. West of the Hudson Economic Development Study for the Catskill Watershed Corporation Preliminary Draft Report: A Blueprint for the Catskill Fund for the Future. Prepared by Hamilton, Rabinovitz and Altschuler, Inc., Alle King, Rosen and Fleming, Fairweather Consulting, The Saratoga Group, Shepstone Management, and Sno. Engineering. December 4, 1998. Johnston, R. A., and W. S. McCartney. 1991. Local government implementation of mitigation requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 11:53-67. Marx. R., and E. A. Goldstein. 1999. Under Attack: New York's Kensico and West Branch Reservoirs Confront Intensified Development. New York, NY: National Resources Defense Council. Miele, J. A. 1999. Memo to Eric Goldstein of the NRDC regarding the report Under Attack: New York's Kensico and West Branch Reservoirs Confront Intensified Development. March 4, 1999. Neville, L. R. 1999. Effective watershed management at the community level: What it takes to make it happen. Water Resources Impact 19(1):14–15. New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP). 1997. The New York City Land Acquisition and Stewardship program. Valhalla, NY: NYC DEP. NYC DEP. 1998. Calibrate and Verify GWLF models for remaining Catskill/Delaware Reservoirs. Valhalla, NY: NYC DEP. NYC DEP. 1999a. Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program Status Report. July 27. 1999. Valhalla, NY: NYC DEP. NYC DEP. 1999b. Preliminary Report on Recreational Use of New York City Water Supply Lands. Shokan, NY: NYC DEP. New York State Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. 1994. Local Planning and Zoning Survey: New York State Cities, Town, and Villages. Albany: New York State Legislature. New York State Water Resources Institute (NYS WRI). 1998. Phase I Delaware County Comprehensive Strategy for Phosphorous Reductions. 1st Complete Draft. Ithaca, New York. December 1998. Promersberger, B. 1984. Implementation of stormwater detention policies in the Denver Metropolitan Area. Flood Hazard News 14(1):10–1. Putnam County. 1997. Scope for Work for Croton Plan, September 18, 1997. New York: Putnam County. Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. 1998. Assessment of Virginia's Waters. 305b report to EPA for water years 1996 and 1997 Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Richmond, VA: Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
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Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy Westchester County. 1998a. The Croton Plan. Draft Work Plan for Development of the Comprehensive Croton System Water Quality Protection Plan in Westchester County . White Plains, NY: Westchester County, May 1998. Westchester County. 1998b. Work Plan for Development of the Comprehensive Croton System Water Quality Protection Plan in Westchester County. White Plains, NY: Westchester County.
Representative terms from entire chapter: