News > News > Stop Polluters > Riverkeeper Calls on DEC to Require New York City’s Discharges into Lower Esopus Creek to Comply with State Law

Riverkeeper Calls on DEC to Require New York City’s Discharges into Lower Esopus Creek to Comply with State Law

Files comments on draft consent order urging no further turbid operational releases into what EPA and DEC have determined is an “impaired waterbody”

(White Plains, NY – July 17, 2012) – Riverkeeper filed comments yesterday that call on the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to revise its proposed consent order with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) because, as currently drafted, it condemns the Lower Esopus Creek to a future of muddy releases. The draft consent order issued in May continues to allow such high volume, long duration turbid releases under an interim release protocol originally negotiated between DEC and DEP in October 2011. The turbid water releases impair the ecosystems of the Lower Esopus and hinder business and recreational opportunities for communities along the Creek.

Although the draft consent order authorizes DEC to assume the lead agency role in preparing an environmental review and a consideration of alternatives to the discharges, the order permits DEP to continue its turbid releases for at least the next year and a half under the same protocol that resulted in several water quality violations last winter. Instead, Riverkeeper calls on DEC to stop all operational discharges of turbid water and provide releases only to ensure minimum flow and to mitigate flooding events while the environmental review is ongoing.

In addition, Riverkeeper’s comments strongly recommend that DEC modify its proposed Consent Order to require DEP to bring its discharges into compliance with state law and be more protective of the Lower Esopus and its communities into the future and to adequately compensate those communities for the impacts and damages they have suffered from past discharges.

“We appreciate being given the opportunity to comment on the consent order and urge DEC to ensure a transparent process and a substantive role for Lower Esopus stakeholders and the public as the environmental review process moves forward,” said Kate Hudson, Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper.

In response to a Clean Water Act listing petition filed by Riverkeeper in the fall of 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DEC have both recently determined that the Lower Esopus is an impaired waterbody under the Act. In light of that determination, Riverkeeper urges DEC and DEP to take immediate action to repair the quality of the Creek and find a better strategy for turbidity reduction in New York City’s reservoir system.

Ms. Hudson added, “Given the impaired status of the Lower Esopus and the fact that the operational discharges of turbid water are not needed for the community or to relieve flooding, we have asked DEC to make the necessary modifications to its order to discontinue these harmful releases. We fully support EPA’s July 11, 2012 comment letter on the proposed Consent Order which encourages DEC to take action to ensure that water quality standards are met in the Creek in accordance with the Clean Water Act.”