DOH calls for changes to Watershed Agreement
By Joe Moskowitz
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) is telling the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that it must make midstream changes in its current Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD).
The current FAD, which was adopted in 2007 and expires in 2017, must be revised, due in part to the effects of tropical storms Lee and Irene.
The DEP will have to spend $40 million to try and prevent similar damage in the future with the biggest check, $17 million going to the Margaretville-based Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC). The DOH says the flood mitigation money may be spent in a number of different ways, including relocating anchor businesses to less flood prone areas. But CWC Executive Director Alan Rosa says at this point, all the CWC knows is that it is getting $17 million for flood mitigation. He says once the CWC gets more details, its board of directors will meet and determine how the money will be spent.
The various soil and water conservation districts within the watershed will get another $10 million.
Additional money will be spent to design and construct wastewater management systems, better known as community septic systems, for Halcottsville, New Kingston, Claryville, and the Hamlet of Shandaken. Existing systems, including city-owned treatment plants, in Margaretville and Grand Gorge, and locally owned ones, in Andes and Fleischmanns, will receive upgrades as needed.
The city must also take steps to reduce turbidity, or sediment that is released from its reservoirs. Excessive releases of muddy water from the Ashokan Reservoir into the upper Esopus Creek have resulted a battle between local officials, the DEP, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The state-ordered spending will not end there. The DEP will spend another $50 million to purchase more land in the Watershed. The program is often criticized locally, but in a news release, the DEP insists the land buying is required by federal and state governments and if it doesn’t comply, the city is subject to large fines.