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DEP’s Position on Natural Gas Drilling

The Catskill and Delaware watersheds provide over 90 percent of New York City’s drinking water supply. The watershed is a largely pristine landscape with only minimal industrial activities. These natural and land use factors combine to yield water of very high quality with little or no chemical contamination. DEP has spent more than $1.5 billion to protect this watershed by acquiring sensitive lands, upgrading existing wastewater plants to the highest levels of treatment, building new wastewater plants to address areas with substandard septic systems and working with farmers to reduce runoff from agricultural areas. This area is also underlain by relatively thick sections of the Marcellus shale that is targeted for natural gas development. Natural gas development at the rates and densities observed in comparable formations will be accompanied by a level of industrial activity and heightened risk of water quality contamination that is inconsistent with the goals and expectations for an unfiltered water supply system. While DEP is mindful of the potential economic opportunity that this represents for the State, hydraulic fracturing poses an unacceptable threat to the unfiltered water supply of nine million New Yorkers and cannot safely be permitted with the New York City watershed.

An expanded statement on DEP’s position is contained in the December 23, 2009 DEP press release, “Department of Environmental Protection Calls for Prohibition on Drilling in the New York City Watershed,” below.

January 11, 2012: DEP Submits Comments and Consultant’s Report on Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

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