The CWC was officially born January 17, 1997 with the signing of the landmark New York City Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between City, State, Federal and environmental entities and Watershed municipalities. The MOA and associated Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD), allowed the City to avoid building an expensive facility to filter its Catskill-Delaware Water Supply as long as it proved it could keep this surface supply clean through land acquisition, regulations and city-funded, locally-administered environmental protection programs. The latter include several programs managed by the Catskill Watershed Corporation, from septic rehabilitation and stormwater controls, to salt storage improvements and education programs.
The FAD was renewed in 2002, 2007 and 2017 allowing the City to continue exemption from filtration. Additional City funding was allocated to develop, continue or expand protection programs.
In addition, the 1997 MOA identified several programs in which the CWC would have a consulting role. These included
- The New Sewage Infrastructure Program under which the NYC DEP worked directly with six priority communities to develop city-funded wastewater treatment solutions. An initial $75 million was allocated — with $12 million added later — to address wastewater issues in Hunter, Fleischmanns, Windham/Hensonville, Andes, Roxbury, Phoenicia and Prattsville.
- Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Program in which systems and equipment were improved and upgraded at 100 existing public and private WWTPs in both East- and West-of-Hudson Watersheds.
- Land Acquisition. The CWC appoints members of a West-of-Hudson Sporting Advisory Committee to review and comment upon pending NYC purchases of land in the Watershed and to make recommendations on potential recreational uses for those lands. SAC members also provide input on the City’s recreational use regulations and permit system.
- Road and bridge repair and reconstruction. The City committed to rebuilding the Dunraven Causeway Bridge in the Town of Middletown and to repair and reconstruct 12 miles of roadway and two bridges built during construction of the Schoharie Reservoir in the 1920s. The latter projects were completed. The Dunraven Bridge, under a post-MOA agreement, was dismantled. The funds initially allocated for the reconstruction were provided to the Town and to the Arena Fire Department.