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February 10, 2011


Farrell Sklerov / Angel Román (718) 595-6600

DEP Completes Upgrades and Safety Improvements in Two Upstate Wastewater Treatment Plants

Projects Will Help Protect Water Quality in Grahamsville and Margaretville

Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway today announced the completion of a $7.4 million project to upgrade two city-owned wastewater treatment plants at Grahamsville in Sullivan County, and Margaretville in Delaware County. The upgrades will help protect water quality in the Delaware watershed, which supplies more than half of the city's daily drinking water needs. At the Grahamsville Wastewater Treatment Plant, an ultraviolet chemical-free disinfection process replaced the chlorine-based chemical disinfection process as part of treating local wastewater. Ultraviolet light will eliminate the use of chemicals that were previously used to inactivate disease-causing organisms before the wastewater is discharged to Chestnut Creek, a tributary that flows to the Rondout Reservoir. Safety improvements were made to both plants and included installation of propane shut-off systems and fire and gas detection alarm systems, which help better protect workers at the plants and assist local fire and rescue responders.The Grahamsville plant serves approximately 800 residents and the Margaretville Wastewater Treatment Plant serves about 1,300 residents.

"New York City is one of only five large cities to have an unfiltered water supply," said Commissioner Holloway. "Keeping it that way requires continuous investments in the best technologies — like ultraviolet disinfection — to improve the treatment of upstate wastewater. DEP provides wastewater treatment to more than 20,000 people in 12 upstate communities as part of our efforts to protect the drinking water that nine million New Yorkers rely on every day. Projects like this also increase protection for local waterways like Chestnut Creek, which are critical to the quality of life for communities in the city's watershed."

"The Margaretville Wastewater Treatment Plant helps protect the water quality of the East Branch of the Delaware River and the Pepacton Reservoir in the Town of Middletown. Both water bodies not only supply water to New York City but are great places to fish," said Town of Middletown Supervisor Len Utter. "The safety improvements made at the plant will help preserve water quality and ensure the safety of Town of Middletown residents and emergency responders. This updated plant also provides the residents of the Town of Middletown with a state-of-the-art system for disposal of their wastewater."

"The Town is pleased that DEP has upgraded their Grahamsville Wastewater Treatment Plant to eliminate the chemicals that may have been harmful to the quality of the water in the Chestnut Creek," said Town of Neversink Supervisor Greg Goldstein. "The safety measures that have been taken by DEP will help ensure the safety of our fire and rescue responders in the case of an emergency at the wastewater treatment plant, as well as the employees. We appreciate the continuous efforts that are being made by DEP to improve and maintain the quality of our water."

With the completion of the upgrade, all of city's five wastewater treatment plants that discharge within the city's unfiltered Catskill/Delaware Watershed now use the ultraviolet disinfection process. Ultraviolet light at special-designed wave lengths disrupts the DNA of viruses and bacteria that may have escaped removal by the other treatment processes such as bio-degradation, settling, and filtration, while leaving almost no chemical trace or disinfection byproducts behind. Safety improvements such as alarm and shut-off systems at each plant will address regulatory compliance standards and employee safety and health concerns. Additionally, the installation of ultraviolet disinfection will reduce overall operating costs as well as maintenance-related and health and safety operational costs.

Watershed protection is considered the best way of maintaining drinking water quality over the long term. New York City's program, one of the most comprehensive in the world, has been so successful at protecting the integrity of its water supply that the Environmental Protection Agency awarded the City a 10-year Filtration Avoidance Determination in 2007. Since 1997, the City has invested more than $1.5 billion in watershed protection programs, including nearly $55 million to help homeowners repair or replace failing septic systems, and nearly $125 million to construct new wastewater infrastructure in communities with concentrated areas of substandard septic systems. The success of these programs is a main reason why New York City remains one of only five large cities in the country that is not required to filter the majority of its drinking water.

DEP manages the City's water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight million in New York City, and residents of Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties. Approximately 1,000 DEP employees live and work in the watershed communities as scientists, engineers, surveyors, and administrative professionals, and perform other critical responsibilities. New York City's water is delivered from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the city and comprises 19 reservoirs, and three controlled lakes. The DEP police protect the watershed and its facilities, which include seven city-owned wastewater treatment plants.For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook at

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