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Introduction How Rivers Run Stories Value Of A River What We Can Do
A new stream of consciousness
(pg 3 of 3)

In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented New Yorkers with a choice: invest up to $8 billion for a new water filtration plant to protect the city's residents from waterborne diseases such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, or spend a fraction of that amount to protect the 2,000-square-mile watershed of Upstate New York, source of New York's drinking water.

New York pursued the second choice. After years of negotiating with towns, villages, counties, and environmental organizations, the city agreed to spend $1.5 billion to buy land, construct new storm sewers and septic systems, and update sewage plants. Local units of government agreed to limit development in sensitive areas of the watershed. In 1997, with the agreement in place, the EPA agreed to allow New York City more time. (Daly and Ellison, 2002).

In 2002, the EPA granted the city another waiver. The city will have to continue to invest in watershed protections. In return, the city will be spared the expense of building a new filtration plant.

To see an interactive map of the New York City watersheds, go online to

New York City's experience showed in sharp relief the value of a functioning ecosystem. The natural flow and filtration of water was worth billions.

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A New Stream
Common Wealth
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