Catskill Watershed Land Acquisition and Conservation Easement Programs

New York City depends on the Catskill Watershed for the majority of its potable water supply. In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a filtration avoidance determination to New York City, which required implementing programs such as the Land Acquisition Program and Conservation Easement Program. Under these programs, the City needed to acquire thousands of acres of land and conservation easements to protect its upstate water supply from the threat of local land development and other sources of contamination. Before doing so, they needed to perform hundreds of boundary surveys to properly delineate the lands and easements the City was acquiring.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) and the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) hired RETTEW to survey more than 85,000 acres in the Catskill Watershed, west of the Hudson River. As many as four full-time field crews use GPS and conventional survey equipment to perform and expedite boundary surveys and locations of conservation easements in agricultural, mountainous, and heavily wooded terrain. This project also involves GPS ground control achieved through the High Accuracy Reference Network, deed research and plotting, locations of existing features, monumentation of property corners, marking and blazing property lines, digital mapping, and preparing legal descriptions. RETTEW has completed more than 900 work orders thus far and has received “excellent” ratings from NYCDEP and WAC for this work.

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