Turbid releases from Ashokan Reservoir have made headlines in Ulster County for the past year-and-a-half since the NYC Department of Environmental Protection reopened the release channel into the Lower Esopus Creek. Now, the dumping of turbid water has garnered attention in New York City, the beneficiary of the turbid releases in the form of clean drinking water. Writing for the New York Times, Mireya Navarro focuses on how the turbid releases exacerbate the century-old upstate-downstate tensions over the city’s water supply. She writes that long-standing disputes over DEP’s operations in Ulster County have reached a “tipping point.” Read the full article: Muddying of Beloved Creek Is Last Straw for Neighbors of a City Reservoir. Navarro also posted a blog entry about the issue at the NYTimes.com Green Blog: Upstate vs. Downstate: A Slow Boil Over Water Issues.
The Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership in cooperation with Riverkeeper prepared comments on the Interim Ashokan Release Protocol. The comments from municipalities and other stakeholders along the lower Esopus were compiled into a letter and submitted to the DEC. The letter calls for a deadline by which time the interim protocol would be replaced by a SPDES permit. Limits on turbidity are also recommended. The letter is available here for download as a PDF.
LowerEsopusStakeholderCommentsInterimAshokanReleaseProtocol 12-15-11.pdf (108.9 KiB, 1,123 hits)
Comments to DEC by lower Esopus stakeholders on the Interim Ashokan Release Protocol
Ulster County and Riverkeeper submitted a formal petition to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation concerning the releases from New York City’s Ashokan Reservoir. The petition calls upon DEC to meet its regulatory obligations and uphold water quality standards in the lower Esopus Creek. The DEC is criticized for relying on the Interim Protocol to authorize releases instead of using the SPDES permit program. In October, DEC issued an Interim Ashokan Release Protocol to govern discharges from the Ashokan Release Channel. Unlike a SPDES permit, the interim protocol did not contain any formal provisions for environmental review or public comment. The petition from UC and Riverkeeper reminds DEC of requirements spelled out in state Reservoir Release Regulations.