News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Riverkeeper speaks out against NYC’s turbid releases from Ashokan Reservoir into Lower Esopus Creek

Riverkeeper speaks out against NYC’s turbid releases from Ashokan Reservoir into Lower Esopus Creek

Saugerties, N.Y. – Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan held a news conference in Saugerties today with other elected officials and advocates to draw attention to the impacts from New York City’s practice of releasing massive amounts of turbid water from its Ashokan Reservoir into Lower Esopus Creek.

Read the news release here.

Following is a statement from Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper:

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s management of the Ashokan Reservoir is critically important to the 9.5 million residents of New York City and many Hudson Valley communities that rely on its drinking water. However, the method of turbidity management is also critically important to the health of the Esopus Creek and the communities on its banks, and to the communities that draw drinking water from the Hudson River. Merely dumping unwanted muddy water into the Lower Esopus and leaving the downstream communities to deal with the consequences is unacceptable and unsustainable.

Not only have alternatives not been properly analyzed or considered, the overall impacts of turbid discharges have not been adequately studied in the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The DEP has failed to take the legally required “hard look” at alternatives to a problem with wide-reaching impacts downstream; It has failed to consider the threats associated with climate change, which are growing more serious each year; And it has yet to study how discharges of turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir to the Esopus Creek affect Hudson River drinking water treatment for the Hudson 7, that represents more than 100,000 people in seven municipalities in both Dutchess and Ulster Counties.

The threat of climate change is near and present. The 2020 Christmas storm that prompted the current releases that have continued every day for months on end may have been considered rare in the past, but such storms will become all too frequent in the future. Quite simply, with this DEIS, the DEP is kicking the can down the road, ignoring the climate crisis while trying to safeguard its drinking water supply on the backs of the downstream communities.

Let me put it into a visual context using an estimate by the Hudson 7 based on DEP’s data: From Dec 28, 2020, to April 17, 2021, the DEP has discharged 8,240,000 lbs or 4,120 tons of mud into the lower Esopus Creek. That is equivalent to dumping 294 truckloads into the Lower Esopus. If you lined up 14 ton trucks bumper to bumper, the length of the line would be 1.3 miles long. You can’t cover up 294 dump trucks of mud. The damage being caused by releases into the Lower Esopus is extreme and unacceptable, especially given that the DEP has it in its power to reduce or eliminate them. The State needs to hold their feet to the fire until they do.

This can only occur with Ulster County acting as a unified voice in calling on Governor Cuomo and the DEC to order NYC back to the drawing board. Today is an important step toward doing that and Riverkeeper thanks County Executive Pat Ryan, Senator Michelle Hinchey, the Ulster County Legislature and the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce for their leadership. We extend our thanks to Amanda LaValle and Dennis Doyle for their long standing commitment to this issue, to Mary McNamara and Candace Balmer for their work with Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership and to the Arm of the Sea Theatre for their visual storytelling. Thanks to the Hudson 7 and to all of our community and municipal partners throughout the Lower Esopus Creek watershed that include the Glenerie Lake Park Improvement Association, TownOfUlsterCitizens.org and ShoutOut Saugerties.

Riverkeeper invites all impacted communities in the Hudson Valley and New York City residents to attend our free webinar tomorrow at 6pm that intends to raise more awareness and to provide action steps for this once in a generation public comment period on the DEIS that ends on June 16.

For more information: Visit riverkeeper.org/stopthemud.

Media contact: Leah Rae, lrae@riverkeeper.org, (914) 715-6821

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