Thursday, May 24, 2012

do you know where your water comes from?

Did I ever tell you that much of New York City's water comes from the Catskills? It gets there via gravity--basically just rolls downhill. No massive pumps or filtration. It starts with rain and snowmelt.

The water from our waterfall goes into the creek and continues downhill to the Pepacton Reservoir, and from there 130 miles to the city via aqueducts, tunnels and pipes.

 There are all kinds of restrictions on land use, to keep the water pure. New York State and City have bought a lot of the land that wasn't already part of the wilderness park.

See how clear the water is? Our own water comes from a well.

Villages were flooded in order to build two of the reservoirs. You can imagine how difficult and controversial that was. Here is an excerpt from the documentary "Deep Water" that gives a flavor of the history of that massive endeavor. 

As I write this I realize I have no idea where my Massachusetts water comes from, even though I have lived here almost 7 years! I am leaving soon for a 4-day weekend in the Catskills. The Pakatakan Farmers's Market (which I wrote about here) will be open and I hope to get a waffle there.

I hope you have a great weekend!



  1. Hello Jen:
    This is most interesting and certainly has parallels in the UK. Indeed, a whole Welsh Valley was flooded to create reservoirs for water for the West Midlands, mainly Birmingham. And, when water levels are low parts of buildings of the flooded valley become visible which is rather sad to see.

    Budapest sits on top of a massive labyrinth of hot water springs which, of course, makes its thermal spas so popular.

    Water, we are sure, will become the next oil crisis.

  2. You are very lucky to have good clean water. The water here comes from the local lake which is quite polluted because they allow for dumping. One day I called the water dept. to say my water smelled like pesticides and his only response was to say "they've probably been dumping in the lake again." Some of the locals drink the water but I've always bought bottled water since I moved here. No one who is not from here will drink it.

    Have fun at the market Jen!

  3. Oh, Jen.. You always write such thought provoking posts! Here in Georgia we have fought over the waters from the Chatahoochee and Chestatee Rivers for over 50 years! The Buford Dam and the Lake Lanier Reservoir are always controversial with neighboring states. Stuart Woods wrote a wonderful book, Under the Lake, about just such an occurrence when beautiful North Georgia land was flooded to make a lake to supply water. ( If you haven't read it, it's a good read! We seldom stop to think where our water and other resources come from until they are threatened. Thanks for giving us a bit of food for thought this week! Enjoy your lovely mountain retreat this weekend. We are headed for the beach... sun, sand, ocean, and sea breeze = paradise!

  4. The words "500 homes" keep repeating in my head. A very sad story from the one view point and yet wonderful for all of the city people who need good fresh water. Since I was a child I have always worried about how the earth could support so many people. I've worried about where we will put all the garbage, how we can grow enough food and where will we get clean water. Thank you for sharing this video. I never thought about where NYC got it's water. Now I know. I hope you are having a wonderful week.

  5. It's nice that you can make coffee with such clean water. To see the fresh water fall and spend time in nature must be comfortable, despite of the sad story of flood.Nature is great though the effort of people is greater. In Japan some big typhoon causes flood. It's sad but people rise up against it, too.

  6. Hi Jen, I did know about New Yorks water supply because a few months ago Tony and I watched a documentary about it!!It was a real feat of engineering and fascinating to watch.Ours comes from a reservoir in the Yorkshire hills and we passed it the other day coming home from our holidays and it was full I'm pleased to say!

  7. My husband swears by New York water, he could be an ambassador for it. The best there is, which is pretty much true and this is why. Of course we live in New Jersey who's water we won't discuss so we buy it. Nature can be cruel but it is never out of spite and for the most part it is astonishing and we need to work with it and adapt to it and not see that as a sacrifice. Enjoy your weekend with the nature of the Catskills.

  8. From the lake! and its good and cold right from the tap.

  9. Hi Jen,

    Before I read your blog I never heard of the Catskills before. I won't forget now!! You live in such a beautiful area!

    Wish you a happy weekend!

    Madelief x

  10. You have a good point here Jen... I have no idea where out water comes from. Nut her ein Norway there are so many rivers and lakes that one doesn't pay attention anymore. Which is of course not right.

    good to be back - thank you for not forgeting me : )