Flight of the MOA

No this MOA isn’t a large, extinct, flightless bird.

It’s the Memorandum of Agreement (M.O.A.) between NYC and the Coalition of Watershed Towns that was signed on January 21 1997.

The Interested Parties

This document is the foundation that makes New York City’s water supply system Filtration Avoidance Determination possible and it didn’t sprout wings overnight – it evolved slowly. It took almost six years before the final agreement was signed. That’s not really surprising when you consider the cast of people, organizations and government entities involved:

  • The Coalition of Watershed Towns
  • Mediator from the Office of the Governor of NY
  • New York City Department of Environmental Protection
  • New York State Department of Health
  • Environmental Activist Groups
  • Scientists
  • Attorneys

State and city elections added to the process complexity when in 1993 New York City elected a new Mayor and the State elected a new governor in 1994. These two events meant some of the involved parties left the negotiations and new ones joined.

It didn’t seem possible at first, but once the interested parties sat down together and listened, REALLY listened to each other, they realized that they had more in common than they ever thought possible.  This is when development of the M.O.A. really took flight.

The Memorandum of Agreement

With a nine page table of contents that spans six major sections, it is a formidable document. The heart of the document, the part that gives each of the parties what they needed, is primarily covered in four sections:

  • Article II – NYC Watershed LAND ACQUISITION PROGRAM
  • Article III – NYC Watershed REGULATIONS
  • Article IV – NYC Watershed PROTECTION AND PARTNERSHIP COUNCIL AND OTHER PARTNERSHIP COMMITTEES
  • Article V – NYC Watershed PROTECTION AND PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS

The City of New York did not laud their size and influence over the watershed participants which laid the groundwork for the watershed participants to voluntarily provide the protections the City of New York was looking for to obtain and sustain a Filtration Avoidance Determination.

A Model Achievement

This agreement has been lauded as a Model Agreement.  Portions of the framework have been adopted globally to help protect precious water supplies from pollution.

Other Articles in this series:

Follow us to see more interesting articles about the NYC water supply and what’s involved in protecting it.


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