Raise a Glass in Celebration of Lakes Awareness Month

By John Martin

Fishing on Lake Gleneida in Putnam County, New York. Lake Gleneida is a source of drinking water for New York City. (Photo courtesy of New York City Department of Environmental Protection.)

Fishing on Lake Gleneida in Putnam County, New York. Lake Gleneida is a source of drinking water for New York City. (Photo courtesy of New York City Department of Environmental Protection.)

Have you ever swallowed lake water? If you’ve spent any time in New York City, the answer to that question is most likely yes.

The city gets a lot of attention for its rivers and many miles of ocean beaches, but not many people notice the hundreds of lakes that dot the five boroughs and their surroundings. This really is surprising, considering the important role our lakes play as areas of recreation and as a source of drinking water. Yes, you heard that correctly – New York City gets a good part of its drinking water from lakes.

Many lakes in New York’s Putnam County are part of the New York City watershed system. In addition to being used by locals for boating and fishing, water from Lake Gleneida, Lake Gilead and Kirk Lake is used to supply some of the city’s 19 upstate reservoirs. Water from these city-owned reservoirs – which usually requires no filtering due to its high quality – is piped into the five boroughs every day, supplying the millions of people who live and work here with clean, healthy drinking water around the clock.

July is Lakes Awareness Month, making this a perfect time to reflect on all the wonderful recreational opportunities our lakes provide, and the critical role they play in keeping New York City running. As we enjoy and use these treasured resources, it’s important to keep in mind that the water we may be boating or fishing in over the weekend could be the same water that ends up in your water bottle or coffee cup when you’re back home during the week.

For some pointers on how you can help protect our lakes, check out EPA’s clean lakes webpage: http://water.epa.gov/type/lakes/

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