The nation's largest city can continue using the nation's largest unfiltered drinking water supply, the Environmental Protection Agency told New York City today. The Catskill Mountains and other upstate sources provide water to about 9 million people.
The streamwater is collected in huge reservoirs that, when built a century ago, displaced mountain communities, and is piped to the city via s system of aqueducts considered an engineering marvel. Water straight from the Catskills some 100 miles or more away, flows up buildings in the city to the 12th floor without any pumping.
Because the city, state and federal governments have invested in land preservation and other environmental protection projects in the Catskills, the water supply remains clean enough to drink. Investing in the environment has allowed the city to put off expenditures in expensive filtration plants. The city's $300 million watershed protection plan won it another 10-year waiver today.
"I've always thought that New York City has some of the best water around, and now we've got confirmation from Washington," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He added, according to a news release: "This is a vote of confidence that will save our city money, and that we'll use in our efforts to spread the word to New Yorkers that you should be drinking tap water instead of expensive bottled water."
Any community that relies on the reservoirs or groundwater for their drinking water can learn from New York's strategy. Here's a look at some of the environmental initiatives that have kept the water clean:
Now, if only New Yorkers who seem to have their hands glued to water bottles would learn that the water flowing out of their taps is among the cleanest in the world, we would really be getting somewhere.
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