FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 1998

ENR

NEW YORK CITY AGREES TO FILTER CROTON DRINKING WATER SYSTEM

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Continuing a nationwide effort to ensure the safety of drinking water, the federal government today announced that New York City has agreed to build a filtration plant for its Croton Drinking Water System to reduce the risk of contamination to water used by nearly one million New York City residents. Under the settlement filed today in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, the City will build the filtration plant no later than September 2006, spend $5 million primarily on projects to protect the Croton watershed, and pay a $1 million penalty to resolve an April 1997, lawsuit brought by the federal government. "We are pleased that New York City has committed to an enforceable schedule for building a filtration plant," said United States Attorney Zachary W. Carter. Mr. Carter promised vigorous enforcement and oversight of the requirements of the settlement. The suit alleged that the City violated the federal Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to filter the Croton water supply. New York State intervened as a plaintiff in the lawsuit and also is a party to today's settlement. "This agreement means clean, filtered drinking water for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who depend on the Croton Water Supply System, and will ensure the continuation of a safe drinking water supply for years to come," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This settlement is one more step in our effort to make sure all Americans can rely on the safety of the water they get from their faucets." "This consent decree will protect the health of the more than one million New Yorkers who drink Croton water," said Steve Herman, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We will work with the City to ensure its citizens receive safe, clean drinking water they can depend on." "This settlement and supplemental environmental projects strengthen protections of the Croton watershed by requiring additional land acquisition, improved storm water control and additional sewer hookups." said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region Two Administrator. "Watershed protection will be used together with filtration to provide Croton drinkers with a very effective barrier against outbreaks of waterborne disease." Filtering drinking water reduces the risk of waterborne disease in surface water systems, which are susceptible to potential contamination from disease causing organisms such as

giardia and cryptosporidium. The federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires that all surface water systems, such as Croton, be filtered, unless stringent public health criteria are met, making filtration unnecessary. Most surface water supplies in the country are filtered to protect against risk of waterborne diseases which can easily get into surface water supplies from human activity and animals. Filtration, coupled with disinfection and source water protection, is the best means of ensuring the safety of the City's water supply. The Croton watershed, located just north of New York City, supplies ten percent of the City's drinking water, and in drought conditions supplies up to 30 percent. Drinking water from the Croton system does not pose an immediate threat to public health, but filtration is necessary to assure the safety of the water supply. Under today's settlement, New York City will monitor the quality and safety of its Croton Drinking Water System until the filtration system is in full operation. The watershed protection measures the City will implement include, purchasing land and replacing faulty septic tanks with sewers, and preventing storm water runoff from contaminating the watershed. The location of the filtration plant is a city and state matter, and is not specified in the settlement. The City will follow State Environmental Quality Review Act procedures to select a site for the filtration plant, and explore possible environmental enhancement projects within the community or communities where the filtration facilities will be constructed to mitigate or offset any potential environmental impacts on the community. The proposed settlement will be published in the Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period and must be approved by the court. ###

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