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For Release: Friday, February 3, 2023

DEC and Westchester Land Trust Announce Acquisition to Help Protect North Castle Public Wells and Croton Reservoir System

State Water Quality Improvement Project Program Funds Projects to Help Protect Drinking Water for Millions of People

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Westchester Land Trust (WLT) today announced the acquisition of a total of approximately 68 acres of land to protect the drinking water sources of the town of North Castle and New York City's New Croton Reservoir system. The funding for these projects came from DEC's Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Program which awarded WLT with more than $1.5 million to acquire lands for source water protection. The projects will protect the two drinking water sources in perpetuity.

"New York's Water Quality Improvement Project grants support one of the State's top priorities - protecting drinking water sources," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "DEC thanks Westchester Land Trust for their valuable partnership on projects that help prevent runoff and other water quality concerns by acquiring land within this watershed and protecting the drinking water for millions of New Yorkers at its source and for the long term."

"Protecting these areas was a top priority for Westchester Land Trust and our partners because we all need clean drinking water," said Kara Hartigan Whelan, president of WLT. "We're grateful to the many partners, including the DEC, town of North Castle, and Teatown Lake Reservation, that worked collaboratively to ensure these lands will forever remain free from development and serve as important buffers to our water systems."

Two parcels were acquired by WLT. The Shadow Lake WQIP parcel is just under five acres of forested land in the town of Yorktown. Adjacent to Shadow Lake, the parcel was the last unprotected and developable property around the lake. Preservation of the parcel will buffer one of New York City's public drinking water sources, New Croton Reservoir, from impacts of additional development in the future. Acquisition of this property was made possible not only by the WQIP award, but the partnership WLT has with Teatown Lake Reservation. The property was transferred to Teatown, which will manage the property with the principal purpose of drinking water source protection.

"We are extremely pleased that the transaction with the property owner has been successfully concluded, thereby continuing our 60-year tradition of protecting environmentally sensitive lands for today and future generations. This has been and continues to be a core part of our mission," said Kevin Carter, Teatown's Executive Director.

The second project consists of two parcels of land totaling 63 acres in the town of North Castle. The parcels include a pond, wetlands, and steep slopes overlaying a large sand and gravel aquifer which supplies public drinking water wells. The properties were identified as priorities for preservation by the North Castle Open Space Study Committee. The land will be open to the public for passive recreational hiking and nature study once a trail is established. WLT partnered with the town of North Castle to complete the acquisition, with the town now owning and managing the property as a nature preserve while protecting the underlying groundwater source for generations to come. WLT holds a perpetual conservation easement over the property.

"Acquiring and protecting this open space has been a long-standing goal of the Town and is now a reality," said Michael Schiliro, supervisor of North Castle. "Our partnership with Westchester Land Trust to secure the needed resources to acquire this land demonstrates the true value of public-private partnerships."

The 68 acres acquired will remain undeveloped, allowing for their natural features to protect the drinking water supplies from potential contaminants and stormwater runoff.

New York's Commitment to Clean Water

WQIP is a competitive, reimbursement grant program that funds projects that directly improve water quality or aquatic habitat, or protect a drinking water source. Under this grant program, DEC 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 wastewater treatment improvement, non-agricultural nonpoint source abatement and control, salt storage, aquatic connectivity restoration, and marine district habitat restoration. Visit the WQIP website for more information.

New York continues to increase investments in clean water infrastructure projects. Most recently, in the 2023 State of the State and 2023-24 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul committed to investing $500 million in clean water funding, bringing New York's total clean water infrastructure investment to $5 billion since 2017. To leverage these investments and ensure ongoing coordination with local governments, Community Assistance Teams will provide proactive outreach to small, rural, and disadvantaged communities to help them access financial assistance to address their clean water infrastructure needs. In addition, with voter approval of the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act in November, historic levels of funding will be provided to update aging water infrastructure and protect water quality, as well as strengthen communities' ability to withstand severe storms and flooding; reduce air pollution and lower climate-altering emissions; restore habitats; preserve outdoor spaces and local farms; and ensure equity by investing at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of resources in disadvantaged communities.

Additional Targeted Efforts to Protect Drinking Water Sources

DEC and the State Department of Health, in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture and Markets and State, created the 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) website and complete an online application (PDF). If you have any questions, reach out to the DWSP2 Team at

About Westchester Land Trust

Westchester Land Trust works with public and private partners to preserve land in perpetuity and to enhance the natural resources in Westchester and eastern Putnam counties-a densely populated region under persistent threat from the pressures of development. Founded in 1988, WLT has preserved 9,000 acres of open space. More than 1,000 acres of land are owned by the organization which are free and open to the public year-round. WLT was one of the first land trusts in the nation to receive accreditation through the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. For more information visit the Westchester Land Trust website (leaves DEC website).

About Teatown

Teatown Lake Reservation is a nonprofit nature preserve and environmental education center located in the Lower Hudson Valley. With 15 miles of hiking trails and over 1,000 acres of protected land, Teatown is the largest nonprofit community-supported nature preserve in Westchester County. Teatown's mission is to inspire its community to lifelong environmental stewardship. Learn more at Teatown's website (leaves DEC website).

Grassy area with trees in the distance
North Castle Property Courtesy WLT

woodland area with lake in the distance
Shadow Lake Property Courtesy of Teatown

view of a lake near the edge of the woods
Shadow Lake Property Courtesy of Teatown

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