The Memorandum in Practice: Challenges and Opportunities

The Memorandum in Practice: Challenges and
The MOA was designed as rule institution to direct the
means by which the City would fund ecosystem service
protecting programs and compensate upstate municipalities to forego industrial and commercial development
that may harm water quality. Since the MOA was signed
in , the City has funded numerous infrastructural
projects to reduce the risk of agricultural runoff, human
sewage and stormwater runoff from contaminating
Catskill reservoirs. The City has also continued to purchase and manage streambank corridor properties to
serve as buffers against runoff pollution and alleviate
flooding risks. City municipal water quality has remained
high. The Catskill Watershed Corporation continues to
function as a collective choice venue for directing City
funds to watershed projects and as a venue in which representatives of the City, State, watershed communities,
and environmental groups can resolve conflicts [].
Despite obvious successes in protecting water quality and
preserving ecosystem services in the watersheds, challenges
remain. Of note, major storm events (e.g., Tropical Storms
Irene and Lee in  and Hurricane Sandy in ) caused
major damage to watershed towns located in floodplains.
Flooding in the Catskills caused by Hurricane Sandy produced a level of turbidity (suspended solids) in the terminal
reservoir that exceeded legal limits set by the EPA []. This
prompted an EPA requirement that the City plan to
better control turbidity in the event of major storms. A
City-sponsored Flood Buyout Program was authored
and, after considerable debate, signed off by the Catskill
Watershed Corporation. The Program expanded the authority of the City to purchase properties in towns situated in floodplains, which watershed municipalities
feared might gradually threaten the existence of whole
communities if the City purchases enough properties to
fragment commercial and residential town centers. This
raises a contentious issue in the watersheds: towns tend
to be situated along rivers and streams, but flood models
show those areas are important to manage as undeveloped stream buffers

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