Riverkeeper > News & Events > News > Stop Polluters > EPA Takes Action on the Lower Esopus in Response to Riverkeeper’s Petition

EPA Takes Action on the Lower Esopus in Response to Riverkeeper’s Petition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tina Posterli, 914-478-4501 x 239, tposterli@riverkeeper.org

Riverkeeper Urges Public Support

White Plains, NY – September 13, 2012 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its decision requiring the Lower Esopus Creek to be included on New York State’s impaired waters list, disapproving the State’s previous determination to exclude it. This decision is significant because the listing of the Lower Esopus will impose a legal obligation on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to take action to address turbidity levels in the Creek.

Riverkeeper initially sought such a listing in a September 2011 petition to DEC. In its January 2012 response to Riverkeeper’s petition, DEC acknowledged that the water quality of the Lower Esopus was impaired, but insisted that the impairment would be addressed by other actions it was taking and that an impairment listing was not required. Riverkeeper, with the help of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, submitted further comments to the state in March 2012 demonstrating that the release of highly turbid, muddy water from the Ashokan Reservoir continued to impair water quality in the Lower Esopus and that the state’s plan to allow continued discharges would in no way address the impairment.

Based on the information provided by Riverkeeper in its submissions to DEC, as well as other available data, EPA has now concluded that state water quality standards for turbidity are not being met in the Lower Esopus Creek. EPA is providing the public the opportunity to review its decision and will consider public comments before sending its final listing decision to DEC. When EPA confirms its decision to list the Lower Esopus as impaired, it will provide a significant legal incentive for DEC to require New York City to bring its Ashokan Reservoir operations into compliance with state law.

Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper’s Watershed Program Director stated, “EPA’s recognition that the Lower Esopus does not meet State water quality standards is an important victory for the Lower Esopus. Public support for EPA’s proposed decision is critical because that decision will bring added legal pressure that will assist all of our efforts to restore the Lower Esopus Creek to the incredible natural and community resource that it has been in the past.”

Because of the importance of EPA’s action to the efforts of Lower Esopus communities and other stakeholders to reverse the deterioration of water quality in the Creek resulting from New York City’s continued release of turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir, Riverkeeper urges municipalities, elected officials, other stakeholders and members of the public to submit comments supporting EPA’s decision during the 30-day comment period it initiated on September 6, 2012.

Comments on EPA’s proposed listing of the Lower Esopus Creek can be submitted to Sheri Jewhurst via mail to US EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, New York, NY 10007 or email to jewhurst.sheri@epa.gov and must be received by October 9, 2012.

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