Water for Our Cities: A Collaborative Approach

NPC17 attendee
APA member
List Price
Group viewing

You'll learn about:

  • The intricacies of the Clean Water Act, Surface Water Treatment Rule, and Safe Drinking Water Act as they apply to providing public water to municipalities in the United States

  • The watershed approach to planning and how it is applied in three cities that have secured a filtration avoidance determination from USEPA  

  • Ways to collaborate between cities on issues of mutual importance

Watersheds are an ever-growing focus of national and international attention. Everyone lives in a watershed and depends on this distinct land feature for potable water resources—whether it is a ground or surface source, proximate or distant from the served population. Land use, management practices, geology, and climate within watersheds directly determine the quantity and quality of water “produced” in these land areas.

The water issues faced by communities—whether cities, suburbs, or rural areas—have many similarities, including contaminants in drinking water, flooding, preparing for climate change, invasive species, land-use change, and regulation. Three of America’s unfiltered water supplies (through EPA waiver)—New York, Seattle, and San Francisco—depend on watersheds but are vastly different in many ways. Yet these three cities also have much in common as well as a tradition of supporting each other and learning together in the field of watershed planning. 

Learn about these three water supplies, including continuing and emerging issues of concern. Explore the power of the watershed approach. And examine the synergy achieved by collaboration within watersheds, as exemplified by the cities of New York, Seattle, and San Francisco. 

About the Speakers

Suzy Flagor
Suzy is the Watershed Management Division Director for Seattle Public Utilities

Tim Ramirez
Tim is the Natural Resources and Land Management Director for San Francisco Water.

Ira Stern
Ira Stern is an environmental planner, manager, and professor specializing in watershed planning and protection, land management and recreation, and large scale regional planning. He has experience working with local communities in urban, suburban, and rural areas and has been involved as a professional planner in government, for non-profit organizations, in a private development firm, and as a consultant. He has a BA in History from Hobart College and a MS in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute. Currently, he is Chief of the Natural Resources Division for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Supply. In tis capacity, he leads 32 environmental professionals engaged in the management of the City’s 171,000 acres of land that is part of the water supply, 40 municipal water connections to the City’s aqueducts, and downstream community issues associated with the operation of the NYC water supply system. This includes land stewardship, public recreation, forest management, property management, conservation easement monitoring, land use permitting, and ecological assessment and research (invasive species, wetlands, fisheries, plant ecology). Community water responsibilities include account management, metering, billing, master planning, community partnerships, and communications. Previously at DEP, he was Regional Manager for Operatons at Rondout Reservoir and Neversink Reservoir from 2007 to 2012 managing the grey and green infrastructure of this water supply region including waterworks facilities, high hazard dams, roads, bridges, office and laboratory facilities and 20,000 acres of land. Beginning in 1995 at DEP, he was Director of Watershed Lands and Community Planning for 12 years and managed watershed protection programs that comprised the 1997 Watershed Agreement and Filtration Avoidance Determination. These voluntary programs consist of land acquisition and management, stream management and planning, whole farm and forest planning, community infrastructure and economic development. Served as a member of the City’s multi-agency negotiating team that crafted the Watershed Agreement and represented NYC on the Boards of the Catskill Watershed Corporation and Watershed Agricultural Council. Prior to DEP, Ira was Executive Director of the Dutchess Land Conservancy, was a founder and Executive Director of the Rondout-Esopus Land Conservancy, and served as Chairman of the Land Trust Alliance of New York. Ira has been a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute (Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment) for the past 11 years and teaches courses in “Watershed Planning” and “Sustainability Indicators”. He also serves as the Water Concentration Advisor for students seeking a Master's in Sustainable Environmental Systems.