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PR- 263-07
July 30, 2007


City Recognized for Superior Quality of Drinking Water and Continued Efforts in Watershed Maintenance and Protection

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Steve Johnson today announced the issuance of a 10-year Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) by the EPA for the City's Catskill/Delaware drinking water supply system. This recent FAD acknowledges the world-class quality of New York City's drinking water system by doubling the length of previous FADs, and contains the most comprehensive watershed protection program for any City in the world.  New York City leads a select group of five large cities in the country that are not required to filter their drinking water, and this is the first time that the City has been issued a 10-year FAD.  The Mayor and Administrator Johnson were joined by EPA Region II Administrator Alan Steinberg, New York State Department of Health Commissioner Richard Daines and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd at the historic Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park for the announcement.

"I've always thought that New York City has some of the best water around, and now we've got confirmation from Washington.  We're grateful to the EPA for recognizing our watershed protection efforts," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "This is a vote of confidence that will save our City money, and that we'll use in our efforts to spread the word to New Yorkers that drinking tap water is better for you than drinking expensive bottled water."

"Water is the lifeblood of our bodies, our economies, and our well-being," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.  "Thankfully, working with leaders like Mayor Bloomberg, EPA is ensuring New Yorkers will continue to enjoy the benefits of a clean, reliable water system for generations to come."

Under the Surface Water Treatment Rule of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, all drinking water taken from surface water sources must be filtered to remove microbial contaminants. However, the law allows EPA to grant a waiver, or FAD, from this requirement if cities demonstrate that they have a rigorous and comprehensive watershed control program and that their water meets stringent quality standards.

New York City received its first of six FADs in 1993 and in 1997 signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the State, EPA, 70 watershed municipalities and many environmental organizations to establish the programs and protocols that provide for the protection of New York City's watershed.  Since signing the MOA the City has invested more than $1.5 billion in support of these FADs, primarily in watershed protection programs such as land acquisition, septic repairs, storm water controls for new development, wastewater treatment plant upgrades and economic development grants and loans through a local not-for-profit corporation.  New York City currently owns approximately 125,000 acres of land surrounding its watershed and plans to invest an additional $300 million in land acquisition over the next decade.

Under the new FAD, the City has made significant new programmatic commitments in many additional areas, including new resources for septic repairs and targeted wastewater solutions in select communities; the continued implementation of stream restoration projects; enhancements to control polluted runoff from both small and large watershed farms under DEP's robust Watershed Agricultural Program; and a host of other initiatives designed to protect and enhance water quality. DEP is also building a UV Disinfection facility to add an extra measure of protection to the Catskill/Delaware drinking water systems.

"EPA's issuance of the country's first 10-year Filtration Avoidance Determination to New York City formally recognizes and reaffirms the superior, world-class quality of our drinking water," said Commissioner Lloyd. "As the Bloomberg Administration implements PlaNYC and prepares for the inclusion of nearly one million more New Yorkers before 2030, it is crucial that our water systems continue to provide clean, safe water to the City."

During the announcement, a commemorative fountain, originally built in 1917 to herald the completion of the Ashokan-Reservoir and the dedication of the City's first water tunnel, was reactivated to commence the year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Catskill system and the monumental impact its continuous supply of fresh, clean water has had on the growth and development of New York City. The Catskill and Delaware water supply systems are two of three watersheds that supply drinking water to nearly nine million New Yorkers.

DEP manages New York City's water supply, which is collected from three watersheds comprising nearly 2000 square miles, 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes and provides over one billion gallons of high quality drinking water daily serving over half the population of New York State. The DEP manages 14 in-City wastewater treatment plans, as well as eight treatment plants upstate. DEP's operations and investments translate into 1833 jobs in the West of Hudson watershed in addition to the more than $100 million in taxes that DEP pays to the watershed communities each year.


Stu Loeser/John Gallagher   (212) 788-2958

Michael Saucier   (Department of Environmental Protection)
(718) 595-6600

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