Watershed Leaders vs New York City Over Turbid Waters

Jul 20, 2012

21 state, county and municipal leaders have signed a letter calling on New York State to fine New York City 13-point-5 million dollars for sending turbid waters into the Lower Esopus Creek... Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The 21 leaders sent a letter to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, which must decide whether to allow the releases of muddy water to go on...  those opposed to the releases argue they damage ecosystems in the Lower Esopus and hinder business and recreational opportunities for communities situated along the Creek.

Assemblyman Pete Lopez says the city of New York has been sidestepping what is known as the "surface water treatment rule" under the Clean Water Act - avoiding the need put a water filtration plant online - which Lopez estimates would cost 4 billion dollars to build.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is recommending New York City find another way to address turbidity and stop sending muddied water down the Esopus. The EPA's position is revealed in its comments on the Order on Consent between the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the state DEC concerning the water releases from the Ashokan Reservoir.  Senator John Bonacic believes the two agencies need to do better.

Assemblyman George Amedore thinks all state residents should be concerned about this issue.   Ulster County Executive Mike Hein says he is pleased the Federal government has weighed in.   The EPA’s comments do not refer to the financial penalty that Ulster county is asking the DEC to impose on DEP to reimburse landowners along the lower Esopus for damage to property. The comment period closed on Monday.

The DEP responded to a request for comment by email, saying, quote "DEP is committed to working with all stakeholders to seek reasonable solutions to the concerns that have been raised.  The issues are complex and there are no easy answers."