Friday, April 20, 2012

NYC DEP: Esopus Creek is Our Personal Sewer

Last year was bad enough:
Ulster County has filed a notice of claim to sue New York City for discharging muddy water from the Ashokan Reservoir into the lower Esopus Creek, County Executive Michael Hein said on Tuesday.

Hein said at an afternoon press conference that the notice was filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York and cites 79 days of muddy discharges. The suit was filed under the terms of the federal Clean Water Act, he said.

Hein, visibly angry during the press conference, was joined by county legislators, environmental experts and agriculture representatives.

“New York City ... is showing a blatant disregard for the health and welfare of our residents and the lower Esopus environment,” Hein said. “They need to stop the discharges immediately and make things right. If they are unwilling to cease their actions, the county ... will use every resource at our disposal to protect natural resources, property and the economic prosperity of our community.”
And now they want to double what they dumped on us in 2011:
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein is concerned about a New York City Department of Environmental Protection plan to double the amount of turbid water dumped from the Ashokan Reservoir into the lower Esopus Creek.

Hein said city officials still have not explained how they decided to release 600 million gallons of turbid water per day during the past two winters and now are working to increase the amount to 1.2 billion gallons by 2014.

“They are setting themselves up to double the amount of damage they’ve already done,” Hein said.
Of course, a DEP flack says Hein is wrong, wrong, wrong:
City spokesman Farrell Sklerov said there already is the ability to release 1.2 billion gallons per day from the reservoir’s west basin into the creek but that it will abide by an interim permit approved by the state for releases of up to 600 million gallons per day from west basin and 400 million gallons from the east basin.

“We don’t contemplate doing anything beyond what’s in the protocol, and there’s no current project under way to upgrade ... or to modify the release channel itself,” Sklerov said. (emphasis mine)
Translation: We have future plans to do exactly what Hein says we're going to do.

Look, many of us here in Ulster have connections to the city. Some of us from the city originally, or we have siblings or children who've moved down there because, you know, jobs, etc. But the city acts as if we're a bunch of country bumpkins who can just be run over whenever we get in the way.

And while we understand that NYC must have its water (can you even begin to imagine what might happen if the city went dry?), we're the major stakeholder in this. It's our water, after all.

I'm not Hein's biggest fan. I think he's a politician first and a good neighbor second. But he's been a pit bull on this issue, and he's no country rube who will be steamrolled by the city's Armani suits.

Can you imagine what would happen with someone like Len Bernardo in charge? I shudder at the thought.

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