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Submit Comments on Draft Consent Order Affecting Turbidity in Lower Esopus Creek

A turbid Lower Esopus Creek as it empties Hudson River.
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June 19, 2012: 6:00PM to 8:00PM
Room 100 in the Lecture Center at SUNY New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, NY map

Deadline: July 16, 2012
Where: The draft Consent Order may be found at
Comments may be submitted by email to [email protected], or by mail to:
Division of Water, Bureau of Water Resource Management
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233

Riverkeeper urges the public to submit written comments on a draft consent order and the controversial interim release protocol (IRP) which has authorized highly turbid (muddy) discharges to the Lower Esopus Creek since October of 2011. Both the draft consent order and IRP were negotiated between DEC and New York City without public input. This is the public’s first chance to comment on them. You must submit written comments by July 16.

The draft consent order proposes to settle an enforcement action brought by the DEC against the City in February 2011 in part based on the City’s “unauthorized” operation of the Ashokan Reservoir Waste Channel, which has discharged up to 600 million gallons per day of muddy water into the Lower Esopus. The proposed order does provide for an environmental review of the likely impacts of continued turbid releases to the Lower Esopus and an examination of possible alternatives. However, the agreement fails to guarantee a long-term solution to the ongoing environmental and community impacts caused by the pollution of the creek.

Below are some of the important points that Riverkeeper intends to address in written comments.

  • The draft consent order and IRP would allow the City to continue polluting the creek with mud at high volumes and for extended durations for at least the next 18 months with no requirement that the City bring its turbid water discharges into compliance with State water quality standards.
  • Of the proposed $1.55 million penalty, only $540,000 would be allocated to directly benefit the communities and ecosystems that have been harmed by the discharges of turbid water into the Lower Esopus; $910,000 would be allocated to projects which the City already intended to undertake, some of which have nothing to do with the alleged Lower Esopus violations.
  • The draft consent order requires the elimination of alum use in the Kensico Reservoir, which receives water from the Ashokan Reservoir via aqueduct, by 2022. But the draft order does not require the city to develop an alternate mechanism to control turbidity before the alum use is prohibited, guaranteeing the continued and potentially increased pollution of the Lower Esopus Creek for the foreseeable future.

The muddy releases have significantly deteriorated habitat and quality of life for those living near the Lower Esopus. Riverkeeper and our partners have been fighting for several years to improve conditions through a fully transparent public process. We now urge you to get involved!

How to Submit Written Comments
The public has until July 16 to submit written comments on the draft consent order and interim protocol. Written comments may be submitted via email to [email protected], or by mail to: NYSDEC, Division of Water, Bureau of Water Resource Management, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.

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