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NYS-NYC Draft Agreement on Reservoir Releases, Turbidity

NYS-NYC Draft Agreement on Reservoir Releases, Turbidity

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Published by Daily Freeman
Posted on May 23, 2012
Posted on May 23, 2012

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Published by: Daily Freeman on May 23, 2012
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05/23/2012

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For Release: IMMEDIATE Contact:
Emily DeSantisWednesday, May 23, 2012 (518) 402-8000
NYSDEC REACHES DRAFT ORDER WITH NYC TO REDUCE THE IMPACTS OFTURBIDITY IN CATSKILL WATER SYSTEM
 Public Information Session on Draft Order and Interim Protocol Set for June 19
A draft consent order to reduce the impacts of turbidity and manage reservoir releases toimprove water supply, water quality and habitat, and provide flood mitigation in the New York City watershed and the Lower Esopus was reached by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection,DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The draft consent order provides measureswith a goal of decreasing the need for aluminum sulfate to be used in the Catskill Water SupplySystem.A public 45-day comment period on the draft order and the Ashokan Reservoir InterimProtocol for water release management will run through July 2. A public information session onboth the draft order and the Interim Protocol will be held June 19 at SUNY New Paltz.Comments will be reviewed and considered in the development of the final order and revisedInterim Protocol.
“The draft order with New York City provides concrete actions to improve water quality,habitat and flood mitigation in the Catskill Water System,” DEC Commissioner Martens said.“The City’s commitment to implement the requirements of the order is
a major step to reduce theimpacts of turbidity in area waterways. The Interim Protocol offers a path to protect thewatershed until a more complete set of improvements can be considered and implemented. TheInterim Protocol proposed a way to protect New
York City’s water supply for nine million
people and address community and environmental impacts. DEC wants to hear from
stakeholders on how we can improve this protocol.”
 
“As one of only five large cities issued a Filtration Avoidance Determination by t
he EPA,New York City has clearly made substantial investments to ensure that our water supply systemcontinues to provide clean, safe drinking water to over nine million residents
 – 
and thatcommitment includes reducing the effects of turbidity in the Cat
skill watershed,” said
New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter
Strickland. “Working
diligently with watershed communities, the Department of Environmental Conservation and DEPdeveloped rigorous guidelines for operating the Ashokan Release Channel to reduce the impactsof turbidity and flooding. We are pleased that this agreement solidifies the Interim Protocol, andlook forward to the results of the comprehensive analysis we will undertake during theEnvironmental Impact St
atement process.”
 
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Under the draft order, the City will be required to prepare an environmental impactstatement (EIS) to analyze alternative methods and potential significant adverse impacts of operating the Catskill Water Supply System. The EIS will consider various options to reduce theimpacts of turbidity including the continued use of aluminum sulfate, releases using the InterimProtocol and options to discharge water from various points along the Catskill Aqueduct,including the Hudson River, prior to its reaching the Kensico Reservoir. The draft order alsorequires the City to deliver the draft scope for the EIS to DEC within 60 days after the consentorder is effective. DEC will issue the draft scope for public comment. The draft EIS is requiredto be completed within 18 months after DEC issues a final scope and the draft Final EIS by adate determined by DEC. In addition, the draft order:requires the City to adhere to the Interim Protocol for releasing water from the AshokanReservoir to the Lower Esopus Creek and a Water Quality Monitoring Plan in theAshokan Watershed which are expected to result in a reduction in the impact of turbiddischarges and protection of habitat in the Lower Esopus Creek. The City is required tocomply with the Interim Protocol and Monitoring Plan until a Final Protocol is developedthrough a full public process and incorporated into the modified Catalum SPDES Permit;establishes a schedule for removal of alum particulate from the Kensico Reservoir byJune 2024 when major capital infrastructure projects are complete;establishes a deadline of December 2012 for the City to propose two turbidity-reductionprojects on the Upper Esopus Creek and commits the City to allocate $750,000 to fundthese projects; andrequires the City to pay a Civil Penalty of $1.55 million of which $100,000 is payable;$500,000 is suspended pending timely completion of the infrastructure and alumparticulate removal projects; and $950,000 is provided in escrow to EFC to fundenvironmental benefit projects which include:
o
 
$350,000 for two stream gauges on the Lower Esopus;
o
 
$200,000 to develop a stream management plan for the Lower Esopus;
o
 
$330,000 to implement the recommendations of the Lower Esopus streammanagement plan;
o
 
$60,000 for a technical review consultant to advise the Ashokan ReleasesWorking Group; and
o
 
$10,000 for fish stocking in the Lower Esopus.establishes a schedule for the modification of the Catalum SPDES Permit; andestablishes that DEP has consented to DEC as the lead agency in the SEQRA EIS processfor the Catalum SPDES Permit modification and a range of associated issues.The consent order can be viewed at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/79771.html.  In October, DEC released an Interim Protocol for releases from the Ashokan Reservoir.More information on the Interim Protocol can be found at:http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/79980.html. 
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