Tuesday hearing in New Paltz will focus on flow of turbid water from Ashokan Reservoir into Lower Esopus Creek
NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — State Department of Environmental Conservation officials will take comments on Tuesday about a permit that would allow the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to continue releasing turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir into the Lower Esopus Creek.
The hearing is to begin at 6 p.m. in Room 100 of the Lecture Center at SUNY New Paltz.
The permit would allow up to a billion gallons of turbid water per day to be released from the reservoir into the creek between October 31 and April 30.
The hearing was announced at the same time the stat said New York city would pay a $1.55 million fine for sending turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir through the Catskill Aqueduct and treating it with alum, a chemical settling agent, before it reached the Kensico Reservoir in Westchester County.
After receiving violation notices for failing to remove alum from the Kensico Reservoir, city officials in October 2010 began instead sending turbid water from the Ashokan into the Lower Esopus, which flows 32 miles through Ulster County before reaching the Hudson River at Saugerties.
State officials last year acknowledged those releases were done without a permit or a penalty, leading Ulster County officials to threaten a lawsuit for violations of federal water quality laws.
Critics of the proposed permit contend the releases should have a separate environmental review from hearings that are about the Kensico Reservoir fine and the use of alum. They also say the Lower Esopus Creek should be subject to a state pollution discharge permit and that the permit being considered for approval has not been evaluated for the impact it will have on private properties or the environment.
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein last month said the proposed permit would allow New York City to continue being the county’s “largest polluter ... (with) unfettered ability to still pollute.” He also said there has been “significant damage caused to property owners along the Lower Esopus.”
Ulster County Legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo deemed Tuesday’s hearing so important that she moved the Legislature’s meeting scheduled for that night from Kingston to New Paltz so that county lawmakers could be at the hearing.
Bernardo, R-Accord, says the state has mishandled reservoir related issues in the region, such as leaks in New York City’s Delaware Aqueduct that are blamed for flooding properties in Wawarsing. Continued...
“When bureaucrats in Albany make deals with bureaucrats in New York City about the ... water in Ulster County, you know it’s a bad deal,” she said.
New York City Environmental Commissioner Carter Strickland in a press release last month said the permit will address problems along the Lower Esopus Creek.
“Working diligently with watershed communities, the Department of Environmental Conservation and DEP developed rigorous guidelines for operating the Ashokan release channel to reduce the impacts of turbidity and flooding,” he wrote. “We are pleased that this agreement solidifies the interim protocol and look forward to the results of the comprehensive analysis that will be undertaken during the Environmental Impact Statement process.”
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