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July 25, 2001

Contact: Geoff Ryan (718/595-6600)

City Welcomes EPA Proposal To Provide Relief From Designing Filtration Plant For Catskill/Delaware Drinking Water

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) welcomed today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal to relieve New York City of its obligation to complete the final design of a drinking water filtration system for the Catskill/Delaware watershed in upstate New York. Under the EPA proposal, DEP would be required to adhere to a strict schedule for upgrading wastewater treatment plants in the watershed, take other watershed protection measures, and design and build a facility that would disinfect water from the Catskill/Delaware supply systems with ultraviolet (UV) light.

"We are grateful that the EPA has come forth with this proposal," said Commissioner Miele. "The plan will provide additional measures of protection for our drinking water, while saving money for the rate payers who use that water. EPA's action is a vote of confidence in DEP's ongoing watershed protection efforts in the Catskill/Delaware watershed and in the 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement, which was signed by the EPA, New York State, the City, watershed towns, villages and counties, and environmental groups."

The cost of completing a design for a full-fledged drinking water filtration plant would be approximately $160 million, and construction has been estimated at anywhere from $4 billion to $8 billion. Whereas, the design and construction of an UV plant is only about $150 million.

"It is likely," said Commissioner Miele, "that the design for a filtration plant would sit on a shelf somewhere and be obsolete if and when EPA ever determined that the City would have to build such a facility. The UV plant and other protections provide more immediate assurances of continued superior water quality for our consumers."

The EPA noted in its announcement of the proposal that, "New York City is required to build a filtration plant for the Croton portion of its drinking water system."


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