We are students at the Green School in East Williamsburg Brooklyn. This website documents our investigation of the New York City water system. For this project we partnered with HabitatMap and used the "Go With the Flow" toolkit to master maps based research methods and apply them to uncover the workings of New York City's water storage, filtration, delivery, and disposal infrastructures. We learned a lot and you can too by clicking through our map, looking at our photos, and reading our learning reflections.

Photos of our interviews, site visits, classroom work, and final presentation

And here's a link to our class reading list, www.bit.ly/NYCWater

Project Reflection

by Valisha Edwards

What This Project Has Done for Me…
Before I began this project, I honestly didn’t really put much thought as to where our water came from & how we got it to NYC. Now that it is finished, I have a pretty good general idea of how it works.

Habit of Mind
I think the projects best connects to the Habit Of Mind "significance". Throughout this project Mr. O has told us to put one specific question in mind: Why should people care? We learned the importance of water these past few weeks and that is why I believe significance is most suitable for this project.

Which part of the process was most useful?
I don’t think one specific aspect of research was really more useful than the others. Everything we did in someway helped us during this project. The interviews & guest speakers encouraged us to look at others peoples point of view, the field trips gave us an inside look on how things were really done & the research helped us gain more facts on the certain parts of the system we had to look up.

What I researched…
The aspect of the NYC Water System I had to investigate was "Fresh Water & Surface Water". What I learned from researching this is that most of the time, when it rains or when the snow on the ground melts, that same water ends up in our sewers & pipes and eventually back into our faucets so its best we keep our streets clean so that our trash doesn’t contaminate our water.

Our Green School Four Values of Sustainability
This project connects to …
1. Sustainable Society because we learned how to positively contribute to how clean our water is.
2. Sustainable Self because we take care of us by taking care of the things around us. If our drinking water is clean then we wont get sick from it.
3. Sustainable Relationships because we increased our ability to communicate with others by going out & speaking to NYC residents and workers of the plants.
4. Sustainable Community because we actually went out into our neighborhood and saw what was really going on.

The Blossoming of My Mind

by Elias Alvarez 

Before I began this project, I did not even know that there was a Croton water-treatment plant in my neighborhood and that there are several plants for waste-treatment near where I live. In other words, I just had a basic knowledge about waste and water, but I did not know such things as where it goes? Who is dealing with it? Or how it affects our community? However, after finishing our “HabitatMap” project I can answer all of the previous questions and create my own website about water and waste.

Furthermore, this project involves the use of habit of mind a lot; by maintaining a clear point of view, collecting and searching information, and connecting the behavior of New Yorkers to the creation of waste and the contamination of the water. Moreover, I found that the fieldtrips were the most useful aspect of the project, because by visiting the actual places it provided me with an appreciation of its reality. Even more, the aspect of the NYC Water System which I investigated about was Aqueducts.

The search for this aspect brought an adventure of learning for my brain… for instance; I learned how the New and Old Croton Aqueducts Systems work and what I can do myself to help to keep it sustainable. Besides, this project makes a great connection with the four values of the Green School: Sustainable Self, by using my intellectual skills in order to search for the certain aspect and hold its information; Sustainable Relationships, by working in groups in order to share and combine different points of view; Sustainable Community, by taking fieldtrips within our neighborhoods to inquire more about it; Sustainable Society, by focusing in how the people interact with Water and Waste, and how they affect our environment. Therefore, this project was essentially important for my apprenticeship as an academic student.

Who Cares About Water?

by Jorden Velazquez

Before I began this project, I really didn't care about the water and what could be in it. I didn't care much about how our water system works because I was just ignorant towards being healthy. I heard about Mexico having really bad water but I felt that wouldn't happen to the United States. I also didn't know of any companies that focus on cleaning the water. Now that the project is finished, I am familiar with the water world and how we try to keep it clean and have the world healthy. Visiting these water plant places made me realize that every body plays a part with the water, whether it'll be dirty or clean. There are ways for us to continue to have clean water but many people are blind and need the ability to see how important this is.

The Habit of Mind that this project involves the most is view point. View point because it all depends on how the person sees things. A person who really knows about the water will come up with many ways to keep it clean and how they can help others and themselves to keep getting clean water. Another person who doesn't know much about the water, wouldn't really try to work out ways to make sure they take in clean water, or even care to use less water. There are many view points between the ones who know and the ones who do not know.

The aspect of the research process that I find the most useful was the field trips, even though I wasn't able to make it to all of them, they were really useful. I learn much better when I see things in person and have someone explain what the objects are for. I'm grateful to be able to be a part of the trip and take in information other sources aren't able to provide. I enjoyed the trips I went on.

I researched human waste, pollution and contamination. I'm learning how people are tied to how we get our clean water. Researching this made me think about why many people don't recycle and create a better environment for others and their selves. This made me realize on how we the people play a big part in this system.

This connects to sustainable self because knowing the things around you, show that you are aware and that just makes you a better person. This connects to sustainable relationships because if you understand things around you, you will understand your self and better yourself and others. You and other people can create a relationship by sharing interest and understanding one another. This also connects to sustainable society and sustainable community because the companies are trying to better things for everyone and by doing that, both the people and companies are coming together to make things much better.

My Reflection BrO

by Genesis Pena

In my class, we've been going on about this water project thing for quite some time now, and in all honesty, in the beginning of the project, I thought it'd be beyond boring. Like, look up the word in the dictionary and you'll see this project being mentioned kind of boring. But after we began to make an effort and pay attention in class, I was able to see that this project of ours was actually pretty fun . . . in a way. Things always vary for people when it comes to having fun or finding something interesting, but frankly I thought that over all, this project was somewhat enjoyable.

Before I began this project, I was a pretty chill girl who'd do all of her work in class and not really care about what she was doing or writing. Because of the fact that I am indeed a very oblivious girl, I don't think too hard about things, and I guess that's a good thing at times. But this project was able to open my eyes and help me see what we're doing to our water and trash. Its all kind of funky, really, due to the fact that I tend to stray away from big bodies of water because of my horrid fear of the ocean, but at a safe distance from all of those rivers and junk, I was able to see the sanitation factories and even water treatment facilities, thus helping me gain more knowledge on the subject.

I think one habit of mind that this project involved the most was evidence, because how are you going to support something if you've no evidence on the thing? My mother forces me to watch "Forensic Files", so now I look at everything in a kind of case way sadly. If there are statistics and all of that involved in factories and more, then there will need to be proof behind those stats and evidence as to how that information was created, y'know? And because of statistics and evidence, one will be able to see just how good or bad a water treatment plant or sanitation plant is doing.

I thought the most interesting thing about the project was the guest speakers, actually, because of the fact that I could just chill in class and listen to what an overly educated man or woman had to say. Taking notes wasn't too much of a hassle, and I didn't mind it one bit. I was able to show off my professional aspects to them.  But other than that, yes, the quest speakers were wonderful and I liked to give them my respect even though most of the class mates *Cough* Darius *Cough* failed at showing their "mature" side; I'm trollin'. The field trips were indeed interesting in some ways, but on days where I just did not want to go, it turned out that I had to go in order to get a good grade, and Hell we had to walk over a bridge. I am deathly terrified of bridges as well, and to get to our destinations we had to go through such obstacles. I almost fell asleep while standing in one of them, so it was pretty darn boring. But the first trip was pretty interesting since a man was talking about physics and I absolutely love physics. Any ways, guest speakers were most interesting over all.

Well I researched Green Infrastructure NYC to check out what these New Yorkers are really up to when it comes to trying to help out the world and save its water. The Croton Watershed is somewhere up in here in New York and carries lots of water, and so far the people working on it are attempting to clean it up and well, watch over it and prevent it from failing. It carries a lot of sewer water an leads it to the factories where then it becomes purified for us to drink, and well, dude that's all I know so far. I am still trying to figure out more information on this thing because man I've been spacing out lately.

Now that this is finished, I now know a lot of things and this certainly helps out with the four Core Values in the Green School. Sustainable Self, Sustainable Relationship, Sustainable Community and Sustainable Society apply to this because I am now helping out with the water, BrO, and I know what and what not to do when it comes to recycling and such. I can see now that there are many people on this earth who aren't taking this seriously, but I will fight to make a change, because I want to keep living. Not necessarily around all of these corrupt people, but hey, I'm a happy girl and I want to save this world. Well, I will see y'all later.

Land Use Regulations & Water Quality

by Caryn Lai Hing

Issues Faced: Regulations and Society
The system is “In danger of becoming over-developed and polluted like the Croton System” Richard Miniter says in his article ""New York's Needless War Over Water". As more and more land regulations come about, officials can’t help but wonder if they're doing too much. We don’t want to over work the land to a point where it does more harm than good. As officials decide on what benefit changes to land use would have on the water, it is brought to New Yorkers' attention the health concerns for us. Despite the auto pollution we create on roads, is the water system more important than life? Are they really looking out for our good? Miniter investigates many concerns that ponder the minds of many including those who live upstate. “Sand is not as effective as cinders in protecting motorists. Some might sue watershed companies”. Watershed companies and everyone involved with NYC’s water system need to make sure that new alternatives would be safe for the water and for the health of those who use the areas where watersheds are located.  New concerns form as new land use regulations are put in place. The government has to wonder if the price to keep some land sacred is too high and too much of a risk for those who use the land to live, such as farmers.  In this debate some may side with the idea that “the cost of complying with regulation is too high for watershed communities to bear” while others may not.

Actions Taken and Government Response

When the public health concerns are put into the open the mayor/government are compelled to take action. For example when “views can almost smell the stench” as Mireya Navarro writes in “Sewage Overflow in New York? Believe It”, a New York Times article that explains the Gowanus Canal stench problem, solutions arise such as the Mayor’s “Green Infrastructure” plan.  The concern expressed influenced what regulations were made to “benefit our great City” as Mayor Bloomberg says.

Making Your Concerns Known

What New Yorkers should really know is that their concerns matter. Sometimes we make observations but do nothing to make others aware. Through the Department of Environmental Conservation, the community can express their concerns.


How one can improve the environment
Another source to voice your concerns is 311. We are the people who live here so we are the people who should care. Not only can we report our problems we can also work to make the difference ourselves. Programs such as New York ReLeaf and the After school Conservation Club help educate the youth and adults of common environmental concerns and what they can do to help.

1. Gerard Koeppel, Water for GOTHAM, (Princeton,NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957).
2. Miniter, Richard. "New York's Needless War Over Water." CITY JOURNAL. (Winter 1994). http://www.city-journal.org/article01.php?aid=1416. (accessed April 4, 2012).
3.Navarro, Mireya. "Sewage Overflow In New York? Believe It." The New York Times. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/29/sewage-overflow-in-new-york-believe-it/. (accessed April 4, 2012).
4.DEP, NYC. NYC Environmental Protection, "DEP Completes Paerdegat Basin CSO Faucility." http://www.dec.ny.gov/education/38184.html. (Accessed April 4, 2012)

Water & Public Health Concerns

by Caryn Lai Hing

“Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody” says Mark Twain; before this project I wasn’t too sure what was a good “moderation” of water or even if people considered water moderation at all since many New Yorkers believe we have an unlimited supply. This project not only taught me to do research but also guided me in making connections between the NYC Water System and all the roles involved in it down to the very abiotic factors. The connection between different times in history are interesting to explore; from reading about the cholera outbreaks in the 19th century in “Give Us Cold Water” to the Croton River Aqueducts, we can see the impact of past events on NYC’S Water System and how much they advanced. Doing this project I also had the chance to uncover the DEP’s relationship with society and the government such as the Green Infrastructure Plan that was put in place by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in correlation with the DEP.

The specific aspect of the NYC’s water system that I investigated was public health concerns. Public health concerns are very important to upgrading the system because the public are the very people who see what’s going on first hand. An example of how the public helped the DEP was by complaining about the Gowanus Canal stench, after review the DEP decided it was time to look out for the people. Having an accepted input from society also encourages others to be active and find solutions to the environmental obstacles. Through my investigation, I found that the most useful tool in researching was online research. The online research provided me with not only current events but also past events that resulted in government action. The DEP website was very helpful in explaining new plans that anyone can understand not just the people who posses high levels of environmental intellect. While exploring NYC public health concerns I found online research the most dependable and straightforward.

As a Green School student who has obtained new information, it is only right that I see what ways our school can improve with water conservation. After completing this project, I realize how much one person’s lifestyle can affect the water system. I found ways of creating a more sustainable me in watching my distribution of water such as regulating how much time I leave the pipe on. This project also connects to sustainable relationships because if we educate others we can work together in making sure our water is clean and the best it can be. We can look out for our fellow New Yorkers by preventing them from living an unsustainable lifestyle which can also connect to sustainable community. If we look at the water system on a larger scale we can evaluate the impact we have on other states. Water connects many places and when one lake or river is polluted and not taken care of, we can bet that we will see the pollution travel to other places by constant water flow. Since water is a necessity we should pay attention to our moderation, and that is what I took away from the NYC Water System project.

Our Water Comes From the Catskill Mountains

by Grace Joe

Before I began this project, I had to write a few things that i didn't know about the water system of New York City. My group and I had to put all of our information together of what we each know about the importance of the water and the way that the people of NYC take care of and use their water. Now that that it is finished, I learned that most of out water comes from the Catskill Mountains, and the process that it takes for our water to come to our homes clean. I also learned that the Sand Hogs company who are located in the Bronx have about 800,000 men and women that work on the water tunnel number 3 in Manhattan, and how if we didn't have the Sand Hogs we would not have water coming into our homes.

The habit of mind that this project involves the most is Evidence and Connection. The reason why is because as students we had to put information that we know together and find evidence on the internet and compare it to it to ours and make some connection to them.

Never Ending Water?

by Elisha Cintron

Every year in New York City the demand for certain resources needs to be met.  Many people don't understand the importance of fresh water in our city. Millions of people everyday use their faucets, bathtubs, sinks, washing machines, dishwashers and various other objects that need water to keep them powered. I learned that water is a natural resource that many people don't even think about.  So many people don't even know that our water supplies have value and that engineers and scientists are continuously working together to keep our water fresh. I researched Growing Urban Populations in NYC and studied how population densities affect the demand for different aspects that are common in our lives.

The New Croton Aqueduct

by Decatur Gooden

Before I began this project, I was unaware of where NYC's comes from and how it traveled through various areas of the city. Now that it is finished, I’m aware of the whereabouts of how the NYC water system travels water through various areas of New York City by reservoirs, tunnels, pipes and aqueducts.

The Habit of Mind this project involves the most is Evidence because briefly it specifies the route and history of the New Croton Aqueduct and how it travels through the various areas of the city.

The aspect I felt was most useful was field trips and interviews of the numerous people who had exact interpretations of the evidence the research we were researching other then having to go online and look for solutions and results.

The specific aspect of the NYC Water System I investigated was the pathway the New Croton Aqueduct took through NYC. New understandings I will take away from my research is how much it takes just to get clear drinkable water into New York City homes.

This project connects to the 4 Core values of the Green school because the NYC Water System has to be Sustainabe in all accounts of Self, relationships with other companies, in order to have sustainable communities for water in society.

The Water System is a Very Important Part of Our Lives

by Ceyara Dickey

Before I began this project I didn't really care about the water system or know about the water system. Now that I finished this project I see that the water system is a very important part of our lives and that everything that had to do with our health has to do with water. I think that the project has a lot to do with significance because everything in this project is a very important part of the system. Its like one of the aspects that keep us healthy and sometimes even alive. Like most of the situations in life that we don't pay attention to other people have to and there are some key places that keep it up. Like the EPA helps by making sure that the companies that are filtering the water are following certain laws and regulations.

I actually found that all the aspects of this project helped me understand better. Because when I did interviews it helped me understand where the people come in in all of this and how the company's treat the water affect them. Then the guest speakers helped me get a better understanding of what the company's are doing and how they're doing it. The field trips and the online research just really confirmed everything that I found out and may be even gave me a few new pieces of information.

I researched public health concerns and I learned how the government or water company is looking out for the citizens. They are trying to keep the people from getting sick and drinking contaminated water. Well it connects to sustainable self because you want to do better for you and what's best for you so therefore in order to do that you must know what's going on around you. It connects to sustainable relationships by helping build a better producer buyer relationship cause the people know what the community want and the community knows what the producer needs. It connects to sustainable community because the community is like holding meeting with the people in the area as well as the people that are helping with the clean water in order to know what's going on and to bring up any needed information that the communities need to know. And finally it relates to sustainable community because the whole community is getting information about something that effects them and learning about what can make them better or what they can do to help the organization there working with.

The Watersheds that quench you.

By Kalina Nelson

Before I began this project, I was extremely stressed out. I was worried since I knew it was going to be a challenge, but at the same time extremely excited to have a challengingly diligent English course. Now that I’ve finished, I realized it wasn’t difficult if the directions were followed.The Habit Of Mind, Significance, applies to the project perfectly. This project shows where the water comes from, how it’s cleaned, the cycle it goes through within the process of usage and filtration, and why it’s important. The significance of the water system on our life is that it is essential for human survival. Without clean water, or no water we'd die out fast!

Even though I hated the research aspect of this project, it was informative and amusing at times, such as guest speakers and field trips. I researched the watershed. The knowledge that I obtained from researching the watershed, was that the watershed is key for the water system. Without the constant run off of water from mountains, into creeks, we’d be without clean water.

The project relates to sustainable self in the way that knowing what’s in your water and where it comes from makes sure that you remain healthy. Sustainable society and community are applied if the society was to say the water was contaminated, whole communities would be affected. Lastly, the project relates to sustainable relationship, knowing the relationship between the effects on your body that non-potable water and non-potable has and what potable water looks like, can help you from getting sick.

Where does your water come from?

NYC Water Cash

by Elias Alvarez

Water, H2O, let me hit you with Mr. O's,
he told me to write a poem about water resources
The greatest water supply, is used on my lovely New York City side
The first, second, and third tunnel
the best aqueducts running under
The N.C.A
born in 1890 in the month of July
Now imagine life without the New York City supply

Water plus population equals waste,
but there is a way for NYC to be safe
By keeping it clean, let me give you a hint,
we are human beings and we need H2O for being
Once the under ground H2O, was cholera water to go
We are not going back,
we gonna protect our Catskills water from attack 

Most people look at water and don’t think why does it matter?
Indeed when NYC signed it, it birthed the path to find it
Water is essential,
but it isn’t eternal
But thanks to NYCWT we can make sustainability!