Where Public Tap Water Begets Wilderness, published May 2015
“By paying rural landowners for ecosystem benefits, urban water consumers in New York City and Boston have contributed to building and protecting wild areas outside of city limits. For this sort of wilderness program to be financially fair depends on the water utilities using a progressive rate structure that spreads the cost burden to large commercial users. But the results of these water utility source protection programs are unmistakable: Clean water and wilderness.
That holy grail of urban-rural harmony is still a work in progress. A deer hunter, tracking an animal and thwarted by a Massachusetts Department of Conservation boundary may not be a happy hunter. But over the years, restrictions on human activity in watershed areas have softened. In a pilot program, New York City discovered that it could allow boating and hiking in some areas that had earlier been closed to recreation without sacrificing water quality. In some cases, the state even permits sustainable timber harvesting. The easing of restrictions can be a boom to the local economy. Local wilderness guides running fishing expeditions on public waters and locally-owned kayak rental businesses are on the rise in these watershed areas.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection – which manages New York City’s drinking water supply – promotes the Watershed Agricultural Council’s Pure Catskills label. By building consumer awareness about the benefits of purchasing goods produced sustainably in the watershed, the program encourages local economic development and protects land and water resources.”-National Geographic