C+S April 2020 Vol. 6 Issue 4 (web)

Drinking water safety has been in the news. A few years ago, the community of Flint, Michigan struggled with lead contamination in its fresh water supply, and more recently, residents of Newark, New Jersey experienced the same. What doesn’t always make the headlines are the good things that are occurring concerning the public’s drinking water. Recently, employees from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District completed four streambank management projects in Delaware County, New York that are helping to protect the quality of New York City's drinking water. Ensuring that stream banks are fortified is important. If a streambank is eroding, soil and storm water runoff that may contain contaminates from nearby streets and land can easily flow into the stream and ad- versely affect the water quality. These streams may eventually flow into reservoirs that supply fresh drinking water to the public. In New York State, the Cannonsville and Pepacton Reservoirs are two of several reservoirs that provide billions of gallons of water to New York City. Several streams that flow into these reservoirs were eroding until the Army Corps restored them under its New York City Watershed Envi- ronmental Assistance Program. “This program funds projects that are protecting the water quality of New York State's watersheds that provide drinking water to millions of New York City residents and businesses," said Rifat Salim, project manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District. A watershed is an area of land that catches rain and snow that drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. This water eventually gets stored in reservoirs, a place where water is collected and kept for use when wanted, such as to supply a city. To perform this work, several agencies collaborated with the Army Corps including the Delaware County Soil and Watershed Conserva- tion District, New York State Department of Environmental Conserva- tion, NewYork City Department of Environmental Protection, Town of Andes, Town of Roxbury, Town of Walton, and the Village of Walton. Floodplain Reclamation Project, Town of Walton In the Town of Walton, the West Branch Delaware River flows near the village streets. Bordering this river are 13-acres of floodplain that is actually part of the river. The purpose of a floodplain is to help keep a river clean and News on tap: New York City Drinking Water By JoAnne Castagna, Ed.D.

Before: Graydon Dutcher walking Army Corps personnel through the tall invasive plants on the Walton floodplain in the Town of Walton in 2016. Photo: JoAnne Castagna, public affairs.

After: The completed Walton floodplain project in late 2019. Photo: JoAnne Castagna, public affairs.

to give it space to spread out and slow down, during big storm events. Over the years, the floodplain was filled with 10-feet of fill. This raised and hardened the land, killed natural vegetation and caused invasive plant species to flourish, and eroded the river’s edge causing soil and trees to fall into the water. As a result, when the river floods the water that would naturally be absorbed, filtered, and transported by the floodplain is unable to, so floodwaters back up and stay trapped on the village streets, flooding homes and businesses. When this high volume of storm water runoff floods the streets, it can sweep up contaminates and carry them to the West Branch Delaware River that flows into the Cannonsville Reservoir. “Today, the floodplain is on its way to becoming healthy,” said Graydon Dutcher, stream program coordinator with the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District. “The fill was removed and recycled.” Dutcher, who is also a Walton resident, added, “The residents of Wal- ton were so happy about this work that they took it further. They used


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