When we turn on our faucet, we rarely think about where our water originates. Many Somers households have private wells, while thousands of other residents get their water from the Heritage Hills Water Works Corporation. HHWWC has a long-standing easement to operate wells within the boundaries of Rhinoceros Creek Reservation; these wells tap a large aquifer located beneath Rhinoceros Creek. Many surrounding households likely tap into the same aquifer.
Development nibbles at the aquifer's edges
In addition to Rhinoceros Creek Reservation, portions of the NYC watershed sit atop the aquifer. While both offer protection to its drinking water, many homes and small businesses press up against it from all sides. This makes the acquisition and protection of Rhinoceros Creek – some of the last open space in Somers – an important event in our town's history.
Protected now and forever
Rhinoceros Creek will be managed to protect the forest, wetlands and watershed lands that filter drinking water vital to the surrounding community while also offering passive recreation such as hiking and birdwatching. Ownership by the Somers Land Trust – together with a conservation easement on the reservation held by the Westchester Land Trust – guarantee its protection in perpetuity.
Is your home on this map?
The map below combines an aerial photo of a portion of northeast Somers with publically available Westchester County (Geographic Information System GIS) map data. Rhinoceros Creek Reservation's two parcels (yellow outlines) sit atop a large aquifer (light turquoise shape).
Each of the homes and businesses crowding the edges of the aquifer has a private septic system; (orange squares on the map show only those systems which were cleaned out in 2018). Failing septic systems, chemical fertilizer and pesticides from lawns and gardens can eventually find their way into the aquifer.
The county data includes hazardous waste sites (orange triangles and text) and bulk petroleum storage (black squares), not all of which are shown on this map. This map underscores the importance of protecting the land we live and walk on – showing how it is seamlessly connected to our precious water resource.
You can help protect your water
Get your septic system cleaned out regularly – county regulations require clean-outs every 5 years, though it may be prudent to clean yours more often depending on usage. Reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals on your property. Maintain the integrity of buried fuel tanks and dispose of automotive and other household chemicals properly.