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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Cannonsville Reservoir and Town Brook Watersheds: Documenting conservation efforts to protect New York City’s drinking water

Authors
item Bryant, Ray
item Veith, Tameria
item Kleinman, Peter
item Gburek, William

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 20, 2008
Publication Date: November 1, 2008
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/22909
Citation: Bryant, R.B., Veith, T.L., Kleinman, P.J., Gburek, W. 2008. Cannonsville Reservoir and Town Brook Watersheds: Documenting conservation efforts to protect New York City’s drinking water. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 63(6):339-344.

Interpretive Summary: The primary research objective of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) is to document the effectiveness of conservation practices designed to protect water quality. The Cannonsville Reservoir Watershed, a major component of the unfiltered New York City water supply system and a CEAP benchmark watershed, is located in the Catskill Mountains of New York. For 15 years, a voluntary, incentive-based Watershed Agricultural Program, consisting of a collaborative effort among producers, federal, state, and local organizations, has been addressing the problem of excess phosphorus (P) effects on water quality through implementation of whole farm conservation plans and recommended conservation practices. CEAP-related research has documented the effectiveness of selected conservation practices, including stream bank fencing, precision feeding, and the use of cover crops with silage corn. Models have been developed and improved to better assess animal agriculture and manure management practices. Results show that conservation practices implemented through the Watershed Agricultural Program are resulting in lower P loading from non-point sources in the Cannonsville Reservoir Watershed. The challenge for CEAP is to identify the most cost-effective conservation practices and extend our knowledge of watershed quality protection beyond the boundaries of the Cannonsville Reservoir Watershed, thereby lowering the costs of water quality protection so that other watersheds where public resources are limited can also meet reasonable water quality standards.

Technical Abstract: The Cannonsville Reservoir, a Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) benchmark watershed, is a major component of the unfiltered New York City water supply system. The voluntary, incentive-based Watershed Agricultural Program is a collaborative effort among producers, federal, state, and local organizations to address the problem of phosphorus (P) loading effects on water quality through implementation of whole farm plans. Collaborative Agricultural Research Service and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service funded, CEAP-related research is documenting the effectiveness of selected conservation practices, including stream bank fencing, precision feeding, and the use of cover crops with silage corn. Modeling efforts have assessed the effectiveness of individual conservation practices and the aggregate effects on water quality at farm and watershed scales. Models have been developed and improved to better assess animal agriculture and manure management practices. Conservation practices implemented through the Watershed Agricultural Program are resulting in lower P loading from non-point sources in the Cannonsville Reservoir Watershed. The challenge for CEAP is to identify the most cost-effective conservation practices and extend our knowledge of watershed quality protection beyond the boundaries of the Cannonsville Reservoir Watershed, thereby lowering the costs of water quality protection so that other watersheds where public resources are limited can also meet reasonable water quality standards.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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