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October 1, 1997

Contact: Geoffrey Ryan (718/595-5371)

City Issues Draft Environmental
Impact Statement on Measures to Control
Water Quality at its Reservoirs

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today the release of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that evaluates alternative treatment approaches for the control of episodic problems with bacteria, turbidity, algae and zebra mussels in the City's upstate reservoirs. Currently, when problems with bacteria, turbidity or algae occur at a reservoir, the City may withdraw water from different depths to gain access to the best quality water; may reduce flow from that reservoir; or may take it off-line entirely and rely on water from other reservoirs. These are always the first lines of defense against such problems and will continue to be in the future. Only occasionally, when these methods cannot be used, is it necessary to use chemical treatment of the water. The DEIS describes procedures to ensure that the minimal amount of appropriate chemical is applied to minimize the potential for environmental impacts.

"The City's comprehensive Watershed Protection Program will reduce bacteria, turbidity and algae problems that occasionally occur in the system," Commissioner Miele said. "However, additional measures may be required in some instances to protect against these problems. Moreover, although zebra mussels have not been found in our reservoirs, DEP must be on guard against them. This DEIS addresses the various means to combat all of these problems.

"The treatment approaches include mechanical and chemical measures, as well as watershed protection which is a critical component of each of the evaluated treatments," said Mr. Miele. "The goal of the evaluation is to develop a treatment strategy that protects public health, meets drinking water standards and is cost effective, while avoiding or minimizing impacts on the environment."

The zebra mussel is a fresh water mollusk native to Europe and Asia that was accidentally introduced into North American waters. The rapidly multiplying pests pose a threat to water supply systems, because they can clog tunnels, intake facilities, valves and pipes.

"A major change in the zebra mussel program from the original plans presented in 1992, is that we will not to build permanent treatment facilities in the West-of-Hudson reservoirs. Instead, an 'emergency-only' contingency plan is being proposed in the DEIS."

In order to pursue the treatment approaches studied in the DEIS, DEP must obtain various permits and approvals from the New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation. DEP has prepared the DEIS in its role as lead agency under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and the City Environmental Quality Review process in order to provide full disclosure of all potential significant impacts from any of the proposed treatment methods.

The New York City water supply system serves nearly eight million residents of the City and one million people who live in Westchester, Putnam, Orange and Ulster Counties. The source of this water supply, world-renowned for its high quality and excellent taste, is a 1,969 square-mile watershed containing three reservoir systems -- the Catskill and Delaware systems in five rural counties of the Catskill Region and the Croton System in three suburban counties north of the City and east of the Hudson River. DEP is responsible for protecting and operating this surface water supply system, one of the largest in the world.

Copies of the 4- volume DEIS may be reviewed at libraries and DEP offices throughout the watershed. Interested parties may request personal copies of the 150-page Executive Summary or the entire DEIS by phoning 718/595-4413 or a watershed DEP office.

As part of the public review process, public hearings will be scheduled and announced in the coming months. Written comments may be sent to Esther Siskind, Office of Environmental Planning and Assessment, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, 59-17 Junction Boulevard (11th Floor), Corona, New York 11368. The written comment period will remain open for at least 10 days after the last public hearing.



NYCDEP Offices
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Valhalla, NY 10595
(914) 742-2080
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P.O. Box D, Route 30
Downsville, NY 13755
(607) 363-7501
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Katonah, NY 10536
(914) 232-5171
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Route 42
Grahamsville, NY 12470
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(914) 657-2304
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Route 209
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Somers, NY 10589
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Bedford Hills, NY 10507
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Harrison, NY 10528
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Route 116 RFD 1
North Salem, NY 10560


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600