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For Release: Monday, March 22, 2021

DEC and City of Middletown Announce Protection of Two Parcels in Orange County

Acquisition of 148 Acres Will Help Protect Middletown's Drinking Water Source

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the city of Middletown today announced the acquisition of two parcels totaling 148 acres in the town of Mount Hope as part of New York State's Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Program. This partnership will help protect the drinking water source for tens of thousands of local residents.

"Clean drinking water is critically important and New York State continues to provide the resources to ensure that water quality protection remains a top priority," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Working with the city of Middletown on projects like the securing of the acquisitions announced today demonstrates our ongoing commitment to protecting drinking water at the source for the benefit of current and future generations."

Nearly all of the raw water supplied to the city is derived from surface water supplies located in adjacent municipalities. This includes four reservoirs and two temporary sources. The city's investment, in partnership with DEC, to acquire and preserve watershed lands under the WQIP program is an example of its commitment to maintaining a high-quality potable water supply, preserving water resources, and protecting Middletown's investment in its reservoirs and drinking water treatment systems.

"Protecting City watershed has been a great concern of mine, especially after seeing how one of our neighboring City's main drinking water reservoir was polluted and had to be taken out of service due to discharges/runoff from adjacent developments," City of Middletown Mayor Joseph M. DeStefano said. "Thanks to Governor Cuomo and DEC for providing funding to protect our most valuable resource, our drinking water."

"This is indeed a monumental achievement to protect City Water sources for generations to come," Commissioner of Public Works, Jacob Tawil, P.E., said. "I hope that this ambitious and forward-looking vision by the Governor and DEC will continue with the additional future funding in order to protect watershed and water supplies, as water is life."

These acquisitions support the city's ongoing efforts to protect its source water by preserving the parcels adjacent to its water supply reservoirs or tributaries, and gives the city the ability to directly manage these lands and effectively reduce the potential for pollutants entering the water supply. The State is playing a major role in the city's efforts with a $3 million grant toward the acquisition of land. To date, the city has acquired two properties and continues to explore opportunities to purchase additional parcels for source water protection:

  • The 87-acre USA Construction parcel is just upstream of the Kinch Reservoir in the town of Mount Hope and the Shawangunk Kill, which feeds into Kinch Reservoir, traverses the parcel. Kinch Reservoir is one of four reservoirs providing raw water to Middletown's drinking water supply system. The prior parcel owner had planned a residential subdivision, but this $500,000 purchase by the city will keep this natural area protected for the benefit of the watershed; and
  • The adjacent 61-acre Banca parcel in the town of Mount Hope is adjacent to the Kinch Reservoir with the Shawangunk Kill running through the southern corner of the parcel. Former manure storage areas adjacent to the stream and septic facilities were potential contributors of polluted stormwater runoff that could impact water quality. The city's purchase of this parcel and subsequent cessation of operations will reduce the potential of polluted surface water runoff from reaching the Kinch Reservoir and significantly increase the protection of Middletown's source waters. The city purchased this parcel for $2.5 million and will remove the buildings, septic field and waste area. The intended future use is preservation.

New York State is increasing investments for clean water infrastructure projects, including the State's unprecedented $3.5 billion commitment to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to clean water. As part of the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), the WQIP supports projects to improve water quality, reduce the potential for harmful algal blooms (HABs), and protect drinking water across the state. DEC has announced more than $37 million for 37 land acquisition projects to date. In addition to land acquisition projects for source water protection, WQIP grants are awarded for municipal wastewater treatment, nonagricultural nonpoint source abatement and control, salt storage, and aquatic habitat restoration.

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