About the Program

The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program (AWSMP) is a joint effort between Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The three agencies work collaboratively to maintain the health of streams in the Ashokan Reservoir Watershed. The program aims to improve stream stability and reduce erosion threats to water quality and infrastructure, mitigate potential damage from flooding, and enhance aquatic and riparian habitat. AWSMP works to educate and inform the community about stream stewardship best management practices and coordinates stream management activities in the watershed. Stream management plans — comprehensive evaluations of stream characteristics with recommendations and strategies for improvement — provide the basis for the program’s activities.

Program History

In 1997, the New York City Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was reached between New York State, New York City, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, watershed communities and counties, and several non-profit environmental organizations. The MOA established programs to maintain and enhance water quality for New York State residents, while at the same time protecting the economic vitality and character of the Catskills region. In accordance with the MOA, New York City established a Stream Management Program within its Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to work with streamside landowners and other stakeholders to devise effective strategies and stream management practices in the Catskill and Delaware Watersheds.

Efforts in the Ashokan Watershed began with development of the Broadstreet Hollow Stream Management Plan completed in 2003, and continued with development of the Stony Clove Creek Stream Management Plan in 2004 and the Upper Esopus Creek Stream Management Plan in 2007. From 2008 through 2017, the AWSMP completed stream assessments for Woodland Creek, Beaver Kill, Warner Creek, Birch Creek, Bushkill, Bushnellsville Creek, and Little Beaver Kill. The Stony Clove Creek and Woodland Creek were reassessed.

Program Funding

The New York City DEP is the primary funder of the AWSMP through contracts with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCE) and with the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

DEP provides funding for basin-specific stream management programs as part of the 1997 MOA that exempted New York City from building a filtration plant for the Catskill-Delaware Water Supply System. Since 1997, the USEPA and the NYS Department of Health have reviewed and issued New York City a Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) on a five-year basis; the current FAD is for a ten-year period (2017-2027). Since 1997, NYC has committed over $20 million to stream management planning and implementation in the Ashokan Reservoir Watershed.

Who We Serve

The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program serves the residents and municipalities of the Ashokan Watershed. The Ashokan Watershed overlaps with the Ulster County towns of Shandaken, Olive, Woodstock, and Hurley; and the Greene County towns of Lexington and Hunter. Most of our programs are restricted to portions of these towns within the watershed boundary. We work primarily with the following constituencies: local governments, streamside landowners, community organizations, contractors and watershed professionals, and other non-profit groups and government agencies. Please see our Program Brochure for more details on how we support these constituencies.