News > News > Preserve River Ecology > NYS to NYC: Find alternatives to dumping muddy Ashokan Reservoir water into the Esopus Creek

NYS to NYC: Find alternatives to dumping muddy Ashokan Reservoir water into the Esopus Creek


Photo: Michael Nelson
View more images on our Flickr site

Riverkeeper applauds the state’s decision to require further analysis of alternative actions, as well as impacts to the Hudson River drinking water supply, and the effects of climate change on the management of the city’s water supply. Decision follows public demands to “stop the mud” in Lower Esopus Creek.

Photo: Michael Nelson

The State announced today that New York City must expand its study of alternatives to dumping muddy water into the Esopus Creek from its Ashokan Reservoir. The city must also further scrutinize how climate change will affect the proposed reservoir operations, and conduct analysis of the impacts of muddy discharges on the Hudson River drinking water supplies downstream.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement – focusing on how the city manages Catskill Mountain sediments within its drinking water system – was more than 10 years in the making and came in response to a deluge of public comments in response to Riverkeeper’s #stopthemud campaign. Riverkeeper and partners throughout Ulster County and the mid-Hudson region have called on New York City to develop real alternatives to manage turbidity in order to preserve the quality of water in its reservoirs without polluting waters and communities downstream.

“We applaud this important and long-awaited decision,” said Victoria Leung, Riverkeeper Staff Attorney. “For more than a decade, communities, individuals, and elected officials have been calling for New York City to find an alternative to its massive, muddy releases from Ashokan Reservoir into the Lower Esopus Creek. This is an important milestone, but we will have to ensure the city acts with urgency to address these concerns, and finally develops a real solution that will protect both downstream communities and everyone who relies on the city’s drinking water.”

Last year, hundreds of formal public comments highlighted NYC’s unacceptable and unsustainable practice of dumping mud from the reservoir into the creek. These releases are the least expensive way for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to deal with turbid water and preserve the quality of its drinking water. But this “solution” only shifted costs and consequences onto farmers, businesses, residents and communities downstream.

This status-quo approach will become less and less effective as climate change intensifies, possibly putting the NYC water supply and all those who rely on it at risk. By New York City’s own account, climate change will only add to the challenge of erosion from severe storms, which causes excessive turbidity in the reservoir. As the New York City Watershed Inspector General wrote, the DEIS “does not adequately document / incorporate climate change into its analysis, and does not adequately consider alternatives to the proposed action, such as a combined bypass tunnel to the lower Esopus Creek or the east basin of the Ashokan Reservoir.”

The additional environmental impact study ordered today is part of the state’s review of the city’s Catalum State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) Permit Modification.

For more information: Visit

Media contact: Leah Rae, [email protected], (914) 715-6821

Tell Gov. Hochul to block invasive species at the Erie and Champlain canals
Become a Member