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One of the defining features of DEP’s watershed protection program is the Land Acquisition Program, 
which consists of purchasing land containing or near watercourses or other ecologically sensitive areas 
from willing sellers throughout the watershed. DEP has invested over $606 million into the program 
since 1997, and has secured over 140,000 acres throughout the Catskill and Delaware watersheds, 
including land acquired in fee simple as well as conservation easements. Our watershed protection 
strategy also includes critical improvements to regional wastewater infrastructure, including the 
remediation of nearly 4,900 septic systems and $400 million in improvements to wastewater treatment 
plants and other community wastewater solutions.  

DEP has also pursued watershed stewardship within New York City’s boundaries through a mix of green 
and grey programs that include nitrogen reduction upgrades at the wastewater treatment plants, green 
infrastructure, wetland restoration, and coastal protection projects such as oyster, eel grass, and ribbed 
mussel restoration. As a result of these measures, the New York harbor is the cleanest it has been in 
more than a century.  

DEP continues to increase the resiliency of its wastewater infrastructure through capital improvements 
that reduce the likelihood of sewage spills and protect the harbor while hardening our infrastructure 
against the effects of climate change. Drawing upon experience gained from Hurricane Sandy, DEP 
created a Wastewater Resiliency Plan in 2013 that included new design standards for wastewater 
infrastructure and tailored cost effective measures to reduce damage in the face of future flood events. 
DEP expects to spend approximately $315 over the next five years to ensure increased resiliency and 
reduced sewage releases during a storm surge.  

Green Infrastructure  

DEP prides itself on pursuing efficient programs that can simultaneously target many of the principles 
described above. The NYC Green Infrastructure Program is emblematic of how DEP has holistically 
embraced the Utility of the Future framework to address emerging challenges confronting the 
wastewater industry. Launched in 2010, DEP’s hybrid approach couples cost-effective grey 
infrastructure with public and private investment in green stormwater practices that provide additional 
co-benefits. In 2016, DEP also began exploring opportunities to use green infrastructure in separately 
sewered areas to improve harbor water quality by filtering out pollutants from stormwater runoff.  

By 2030, DEP anticipates more than $2.4 billion of public and private money will be invested in source 
controls, such as bioswales, blue roofs, rain gardens, green roofs, porous pavement and rainwater 
harvesting, aimed at managing the first inch of stormwater across 7,800 acres. To achieve this ambitious 
goal, DEP:  

 

developed a robust bioswale construction program that has already broken ground on more 
than 3,400 green infrastructure assets citywide, 

 

awarded more than $13 million to 31 projects through a grant program that supports green 
infrastructure development on private property 

 

promulgated a new rule that requires all new or substantially redeveloped properties to retain 
90% of their stormwater on-site 

 

created a green jobs program that aims to hire 260 design and maintenance staff to manage the 
green infrastructure assets citywide, and is developing the “Adopt-a-Bioswale” program to 
foster stewardship of green infrastructure assets with residents and community groups.