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For Release: Friday, January 7, 2022

DEC and Rensselaer Land Trust Announce Two Acquisitions to Protect Capital Region's Drinking Water Quality

State Water Quality Improvement Program Funds Projects to Help Protect the Tomhannock Reservoir

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Rensselaer Land Trust (RLT) today announced the acquisition of two parcels totaling 120 acres for source water protection. These acquisitions are the first of several purchased by RLT with funding from a $1.5 million Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) grant.

"Protecting water quality is a top priority for DEC and our land trust partners throughout New York State," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Working with the Rensselaer Land Trust and the Tomhannock Rural Land Campaign on these critical acquisitions demonstrates our commitment to protecting drinking water sources and open space for thousands of New Yorkers in Rensselaer County and the Capital Region."

To acquire the parcels, RLT worked with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance and Agricultural Stewardship Association, a partnership known as the Tomhannock Rural Land Campaign. The two land acquisitions, located in the town of Pittstown, will help protect the Tomhannock Reservoir, which serves as a public drinking water supply for more than 135,000 people in the Capital Region. The land will be owned and managed by RLT.

"These newly acquired properties will help protect the drinking water of Troy and several other Capital Region communities while at the same time conserving two scenic parcels in Pittstown," said Rensselaer Land Trust Executive Director John Winter. "RLT is very pleased to be working with DEC and our partners to protect our drinking water and open space."

The 82-acre Browning parcel has more than 2,800 feet of frontage on Sunkauissia Creek and its tributaries. The land cover is a mix of wetlands, forested areas, and a small portion of agricultural fields.The 38-acre Moore-Pohlman property has more than 2,000 feet of frontage on Otter Creek, one of the primary streams that feed the reservoir. The parcel contains a mix of open fields, forested land, and wetlands.

Both properties are located upstream of the 1,700-acre Tomhannock Reservoir and woodland and wetland areas. The acquisitions will support protecting source waters by helping to decelerate stormwater runoff and filtering and absorbing pollutants. RLT, working with their partners, will use the remaining WQIP grant funds to acquire additional parcels and easements to protect the reservoir. To learn more about the Tomhannock Rural Land Campaign (leaves DEC's website), visit their website.

New York's Commitment to Clean Water

In the 2022 State of the State Address on Jan. 5, Governor Kathy Hochul committed to investments for clean water infrastructure projects to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to clean water. Governor Hochul also outlined enhanced protections for wetlands, recognizing their critical role providing clean water and habitat and protecting infrastructure and communities from flooding. The Governor will propose legislation to expand New York's wetlands program by improving mapping requirements and enhancing regulations around smaller wetlands.

As part of the State's Environmental Protection Fund, the WQIP supports projects to improve water quality, reduce the potential for harmful algal blooms, and protect drinking water across the state. DEC has announced more than $60 million for 47 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. In December, Governor Hochul announced (leaves DEC's website) more than $272 million awarded to 179 projects to protect and improve water quality across New York State through the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative. Nearly $24 million was included specifically to support land acquisitions to protect source waters like the project announced today.

Additional State Efforts to Protect Drinking Water Sources

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Department of Health also recently announced (leaves DEC's website) that technical assistance is available to communities that apply to develop and initiate implementation of drinking water source protection programs, inviting communities to submit an application. Earlier this year, the two agencies, in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture and Markets and State, announced the new Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2) to assist municipalities with proactively protecting their drinking water sources. The State is seeking communities to work with a technical assistance (TA) provider, free of charge, to develop and initiate implementation of their drinking water source protection program. DWSP2 plans not only protect public health but also protect water quality of both surface and groundwater across the state. To apply, visit the Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2) webpage and complete an online application (PDF). If you have any questions, reach out to the DWSP2 Team at

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