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.

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)