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September 10, 2004

Contact: Ian Michaels (718) 595-6600

Public Advocate’s Claim Questioned By DEP

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today responded to Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum’s misrepresentation of statistics on catch basin cleaning. The Public Advocate had claimed that yesterday’s flooding was caused in part by a decrease in the number of catch basins cleaned by the DEP.

“The Public Advocate has conveniently excluded the numbers that would prove her theory wrong,” said DEP spokesman Ian Michaels. “Her statistics begin in Fiscal Year 2002, and she uses Fiscal Year 2002 as a baseline for comparison against future years. However, she neglects to include earlier years.

“She also neglects to mention a very important fact – the number of catch basin cleanings in Fiscal Year 2002 was artificially high because the DEP had a program that year to install devices in catch basins which would help capture street litter before it reaches the Harbor.

“She’s taken a year when the DEP devoted extra resources to improving catch basins and used that against the agency. But when you look at it in a larger context she’s clearly wrong. That is hardly a fair comparison or a judicious use of the facts.”

There are over 137,000 catch basins in New York City . The DEP’s maintenance program ensures that every one of them is inspected and, if necessary, cleaned at least once every three years. The DEP also cleans catch basins in response to complaints or reports of local flooding.

The number of catch basins cleaned per year for the last five years is as follows:

Fiscal Year 2000 45,256
Fiscal Year 2001 41,323
Fiscal Year 2002 57,025 ***
Fiscal Year 2003 47,390
Fiscal Year 2004 43,956

(*** includes catch basins cleaned under special program to decrease litter in NY Harbor)


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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

(718) 595-6600