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Officials In Ulster County Await Finalized Consent Order

Doug Kerr, flickr

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced an agreement with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to reduce the impact of discharges into an Ulster County water body. The consent order awaits the signature of a New York City official before going into effect.

The DEC recently announced the agreement with the DEP to reduce the impact of discharges from the Ashokan Reservoir into the Lower Esopus Creek. The agreement is in the form of a consent order, which has not yet been released, pending the signature of the New York City comptroller. Here’s DEC spokesman Peter Constantakes.

That study would be overseen by the DEC. It requires New York City to perform an environmental review of DEP releases from the Ashokan Reservoir, and the public will have the chance to review draft studies and offer input. Also under the agreement, DEP will be required to reduce the duration of any turbid releases, or muddied water, to the Esopus Creek and limit turbidity in releases that are intended to reduce storm flows downstream of the Ashokan Reservoir. Ulster County Executive Mike Hein has been calling for DEP to pay attention to the turbidity problems in the lower Esopus. He says the consent order is a positive development.

He says one benefit is flushing the creek with more clear water. As DEC’s Constantakes explains, the agreement dictates that lower levels of turbidity trigger such clear-water releases.

Michael Warren is supervisor of Marbletown, one of the lower Esopus municipalities affected by turbid releases. He says at Tuesday’s town board meeting, he expects approval of the following resolution.

He underscores the significance of forming the group.

He says he anticipates all lower Esopus communities to vote in favor of joining the coalition.

Saugerties Town Supervisor Kelly Myers says she was frustrated that press releases announcing the consent order were released ahead of any signed consent order, especially with the state Department of Health’s draft revisions to New York City’s 2007 Filtration Avoidance Determination currently out for public comment until October 15.

The so-called FAD would allow DEP to avoid building a filtration system for the Catskill/Delaware watershed, yet does not address turbidity in the Lower Esopus because, as state officials have said, the lower Esopus lies outside the New York City watershed. Many officials, therefore, were awaiting the consent order to address issues concerning the Lower Esopus. DEC’s Constantakes notes that the draft consent order came after input not only from DEP but from Ulster County officials. Again, here’s County Executive Hein.

A statement released by DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland says the proposed modifications to the draft consent order are an important step for New York City and DEP’s neighbors along the Lower Esopus Creek. 

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