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Riverkeeper calls for new water “vision” in New York

In testimony on historic water infrastructure investments, Riverkeeper identifies proactive strategies to protect water before it becomes contaminated

In testimony today before members of the New York State Assembly, Riverkeeper will call for a set of proactive strategies for protecting high quality water at its source, conserving water at the tap, and paying for needed investments equitably.

These strategies are proposed as a complement to the historic investments and commitments that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have made to clean water in recent years, including the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act, the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act and the establishment of the Drinking Water Council and the Water Quality Rapid Response Task Force.

Riverkeeper is proposing an update to the state’s Water Resources Strategy as a vehicle for advancing a “Reforming the Water Vision” akin to Governor Cuomo’s “REV: Reforming the Energy Vision” initiative.

“This year, New York State began to dig us out of the hole that decades of failing to invest in clean water has put us in,” Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said. “Looking forward, Riverkeeper urges the State to adopt a new plan for ‘Reforming the Water Vision’ so we can move from fixing outdated infrastructure to implementing truly proactive, equitable strategies. By doing so, we can prevent future water quality crises, protect our water resources at their source and ensure their efficient management and use, and foster recovery of our magnificent waterways.”

Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program Director, detailed the strategy in prepared testimony before the Assembly Committees on Environmental Conservation and Health, and the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The strategy Riverkeeper is suggesting draws on the experience of the communities throughout the Hudson River Watershed, and the networks of agencies, non-governmental organizations and individuals who have studied and implemented watershed protection, water conservation and other key programs, including:

  • The City of Newburgh, where the city’s reservoir was contaminated with PFOS, a toxic component of firefighting foam. The reservoir and its watershed are outside city limits, and have not been protected from the impacts of commercial, industrial and residential development.
    Rockland County, where the Task Force on Water Resources Management is developing a comprehensive strategy to ensure a “safe long-term water supply … that incorporates sustainability, demand-side principles and conservation.”
  • The seven communities that draw drinking water from the Hudson River Estuary, which are using Riverkeeper’s Source Water Protection Scorecard to develop strategies to protect high quality drinking water at its source.
  • The network of over 170 individuals and dozens of organizational partners that work with Riverkeeper to sample water quality at 440 locations throughout the Hudson River Watershed. Riverkeeper’s testimony also focuses on the recently published report on water quality data and infrastructure needs that is based on this community science effort: How’s the Water? Hudson River Water Quality and Water Infrastructure.

Read the testimony: Implementation of the water quality investments in the 2017-18 budget

Contact: Leah Rae, Riverkeeper, lrae@riverkeeper.org, (914) 715-6821

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