Watershed advocate Herman Gottfried dies

Herman Gottfried, a lawyer who fought New York City on behalf of residents of the drowned towns that now lie beneath the waters of the Pepacton and Cannonsville reservoirs, died on April 24 at the age of 99.

Local historian Diane Galusha (author of Liquid Assets: A History of New York City's Water System) wrote Gottfried's obituary in this week's Catskill Mountain News. Gottfried worked for the city before switching sides to argue on behalf of landowners, as Galusha described in Liquid Assets:

"I was called a turncoat. They thought I was probably a spy, with some justification," he recalled in a 1996 interview, noting that his "tobacco road" description of one farmstead at a commission hearing, when he worked for the city, didn't sit well with local residents. "When I was working for the City of New York I had to represent them to the best of my ability, which I did, and it worked to the advantage of the city," Gottfried said, admitting to "some regret" that the initial Pepacton property damage awards were fairly low. "That haunted me some," he said. "But after we got several awards in 1952 for claimants I represented, they knew I meant business. We hit home runs galore."