Investments in high quality spring water have been a good deal for the city. Together, these components of the program have avoided the need to build a water filtration facility that will cost an estimated $10 billion, plus an annual operating cost of several hundred million dollars. As part of the Clean Drinking Water Coalition, Riverkeeper is committed to the city`s expenditures – the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), P Police and watershed protection programs – that are needed to fully protect spring water throughout the NYC Watershed. Conversely, the preservation of the watershed was estimated at $1.5 billion, or just over one cent invested in ecological protection for every dollar that would have been spent on a filtration facility. While the benefits are clear, says Al Appleton, the former director of the New York Water and Sewer system, who initiated parts of the watershed agreement, the cost-value bill for this ecosystem investment is not as simple as it seems. „You can`t make a single investment and you expect it to be made. There is still a work in progress that requires care, supervision and money. Nevertheless, he continues, the program has already established that „ecosystem services are not only superior environmental and social outcomes, but they produce results that are much cheaper than traditional environmental strategies.“ The recorded environmental and economic achievements of the watershed have made waves in the United States. More than 140 cities are now considering preserving watersheds rather than building filtration facilities. As for the future of the program, it could continue indefinitely, Harding said. More land is acquired, better scientific progress is made and federal, regional and local funding is increased. „We are not short of time, steam or money.“ Local partners such as the Watershed Agricultural Council and the Catskill Watershed Corporation are essential to making the agreement work. Borrowing is clear: the 1997 agreement aims not only to improve water quality, but also to improve the „economic vitality“ of the watershed municipalities.
Although the 1997 Watershed Agreement is a historic achievement with the potential to sustainably protect New York`s drinking water from decline, the agreement is not self-coercive. Without aggressive efforts by New York and the other signatories to implement and enforce its provisions, the agreement will fail. As a signatory and author of the agreement, Riverkeeper has a unique public role to ensure the success of the agreement and a special power to enforce and control its implementation. The New York City Water System is a giant that supplies about 1 billion gallons to 9.5 million people per day. Most of this water – about 90 percent – comes from the Catskill and Delaware basins and is provided by a network of aqueducts and tunnels that together extend more than 175 miles, from high forest forests to sewage treatment plants on the outskirts of the metropolitan area. In the Catskill/Delaware Basin (approximately 1 million hectares), New York City owns 6 per cent of the country and 20 per cent is state-owned and preserved as a forest reserve. To acquire more land, New York plans to spend $250 million on undactable land that has water quality-sensitive features (e.g. B near tributaries, streams and reservoirs). The city will only buy willing sellers and will not impose its power on the important domain.