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NY Congressman Comments On Draft Revisions To NYC Water Waiver

Patrick Stahl, flickr

A New York Congressman whose district includes the West-of-the-Hudson New York City watershed is weighing in on draft revisions to the city’s waiver from filtering drinking water. 

The New York State Department of Health released for public comment in late August draft revisions to New York City’s 2007 Filtration Avoidance Determination, or FAD. The draft revisions to FAD allow the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to avoid building an expensive filtration system while calling for enhancements to watershed protection in the Catskill/Delaware watershed. Republican Congressman Chris Gibson, along with his Watershed Advisory Group says more changes are needed for upstate equality.

Gibson says he and his group are still reviewing the FAD, but want to raise four issues at this point. First, he says in light of major storms and flooding over the past six years, the stream mitigation plan is inadequate.

Second, he says turbidity must be addressed in the lower Esopus in Ulster County.

A DOH spokesman previously said that while outside the watershed and regulatory authority of the FAD, there was recognition of the issues being faced by communities in the lower Esopus, and earlier discussions did include the potential for stream projects in the lower Esopus. But it was determined that these issues would more appropriately be addressed outside of the FAD and in a consent order between DEP and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. At the end of August, it came to light that such revisions were omitted in the latest version of the FAD, upsetting several Ulster County stakeholders.

A DEP spokesman echoes that the FAD governs water bodies within the watershed. The lower Esopus is not contained within the watershed. He adds that lower Esopus issues fall under the Clean Water Act, not the Safe Drinking Water Act, and will be addressed under the consent order. He declined to comment specifically on Gibson’s statements saying he had not seen them.

Gibson continues with his remaining two findings thus far.

He says reservoir management, though not technically part of the FAD, is key in any discussion involving drinking water and New York City.

The comment period for the DOH FAD draft revisions ends October 15.

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