Listen

Because of limited cell service in parts of the Catskills, please download the entire tour from your favorite podcast app before you begin. Printing a map or using the “offline” feature on your favorite map app is also recommended.

The tour can be heard and sites visited in any order; although we recommend you start with the Introduction and the A Difficult History segments, and make sure to listen to A Seat at the Table!

Featuring Lize Mogel, your tour guide (2:51)

Important information about how to use this podcast tour; a land acknowledgement; and a couple of things to notice along the way.


Featuring Lize Mogel, your tour guide (6:29)

The backstory to NYC's drinking water, 90% of which comes from the Catskills, 100+ miles from the City. New York City and the Catskills are physically and socially connected by water, but their relationship is complicated!


Featuring historian Diane Galusha (12:21)

As New York City grew, so did its need for clean water. The construction of the Catskills System— the Ashokan and Schoharie reservoirs and the Catskill Aqueduct— displaced thousands of people through eminent domain, uprooting tight-knit rural communities and causing generational bitterness towards the City.

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Featuring Adam Bosch, Director of Public Affairs for the DEP (7:26)

The NYC water supply is enormous! It serves 9.5 million people every day, and has a capacity of 570 billion gallons. NYC's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) owns, operates, and manages the water supply, with a little help from their friend, gravity.

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Featuring Journalists Lissa Harris and Tim Knight (15:16)

In 2011 Hurricane Irene roared through the Catskills "like a fire hose going through an anthill." But yet, the Catskills persisted. The story of Hurricane Irene is one of devastation and resilience. It also illuminates the complicated relationship between human development, water infrastructure, and natural forces.


Featuring Adam Bosch, Director of Public Affairs for the DEP (4:25)

Hurricane Irene raised concerns about the Gilboa Dam and the ability of water infrastructure to manage the massive amounts of water produced by large storms. How the DEP is preparing for the impacts of climate change in our future.


Featuring Todd Spire, angler (9:42)

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The Catskills are considered to be the birthplace of fly fishing in the US. Here, fishing can be an occupation, a lifeline, or a hobby. Anglers (and fish too!) are important stakeholders in the watershed—NYC's control over the water in Esopus Creek and other rivers, and the fishing community's needs for clear, cold water are deeply intertwined.

Wheelchair icon This site is wheelchair accessible.


Featuring Adam Bosch, Director of Public Affairs for the DEP (5:41)

NYC’s water infrastructure is kind of like your household plumbing, but a lot bigger. What happens though, when, like your household plumbing, it springs a leak or needs to be replaced?


Featuring former DEP Commissioner Marilyn Gelber and former Catskills Watershed Corporation Executive Director Alan Rosa (26:18)

A DEP Commissioner, a Catskillian, and a bunch of lawyers walk into a bar...The 1990s were a turning point for the relationship between the Catskills and NYC. The Clean Water Act changed the way the City needed to manage its water supply, so they tried to impose stringent regulations on the watershed. Catskillians were having none of that! As watershed towns got together and organized, a new DEP Commissioner came to town with a very different approach from her predecessors. A pitcher of beer broke the ice, and the rest is history.

Wheelchair icon This site is wheelchair accessible.


Featuring Fred Huneke, retired dairy farmer (10:03)

Dairy farming is hard. In the 1990s, new watershed regulations would have made it even harder, if not impossible. Farmers pushed back, organized and eventually collaborated with the City to come up with a plan that would benefit everyone-- the City would pay farmers to modernize, and farmers would be able to keep cow poop out of the water.


Featuring Tim Koch, Stream Educator (10:30)

Sediment, turbidity, and riparian buffers, oh my! There's a lot that can happen in a stream on its way to becoming NYC's drinking water. Watershed managers have re-engineered part of Stony Clove Creek so that it's cleaner and clearer...and doesn't flood downtown Phoenicia anymore.


Featuring Aaron Bennett, environmental planner (8:01)

There’s a lot of water in the Catskills! Flooding is a constant threat, made worse by climate change, and most of the businesses in downtown Boiceville will eventually have to move because of it. A vacant lot is a marker of the profoundly tough choices the town has to make in planning for future flooding.


Featuring grave restorer and historian Marianne Greenfield (9:05)

The Pepacton Cemetery is a remote and resonant place. Like all cemeteries, it’s a marker of loss-- not just the loss of individual people, but of entire communities that were displaced to build the water system.


Featuring trail builder Ann Roberti (12:13)

NYC owns a lot of land and water in the Catskills. You can walk (or paddle) on some of it because people advocated for that access, and did the work to build paths through it. Just watch out for snakes in the pond!


Featuring Diane Galusha, Marianne Greenfield, and Adam Bosch (10:33)

New York City needed more water, it set out to tap the Delaware River (much to New Jersey's dismay!). The construction of the Pepacton Reservoir, which was completed in the mid-50s, and the displacement that it entailed, are still within the living memory of this part of the Catskills.