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April 12, 2007

CONTACT: Ian Michaels (718) 595-6600

EPA Releases Draft Filtration Avoidance Determination For New York City

FAD to cover 10 years

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region II today released a draft Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD), which for the first time will cover a term of 10 years, for New York City’s Catskill/Delaware water systems. The new draft FAD maintains New York City’s status as one of only five large cities in the country with drinking water of such high quality that it is not required to filter. “We truly appreciate this affirmation by the EPA of our diligent efforts to protect New York City’s drinking water supply,” said NYC DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “The Bloomberg Administration has made sustainable planning for New York City’s future a top priority and maintaining our world class drinking water system is the quintessential example of that principle at work. Our water supply system is self-replenishing, gravity-fed, and dependable, and this new FAD, with its extended timeframe, justifies the investments necessary to ensure that New York City’s drinking water remains unfiltered for decades to come,” said Commissioner Lloyd.

“The draft FAD issued today is the result of cooperation, innovation, and commitment on the part of the staffs of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Environmental Protection Agency, officials at the city and state level, the environmental community, and the host communities of our New York City watershed. We plan to continue working with all parties to ensure the continued success of filtration avoidance.”

Under the draft FAD, the City has agreed to enhance its commitment toward acquiring undeveloped land in the Catskill/Delaware watershed, as a means of watershed protection. A total of $300 million has been allocated for this purpose over the next 10 years. The City will also seek to expand on its existing relationships with various land trusts in order to facilitate purchases of eligible land.

Land Acquisition, one of the largest components of DEP’s science-based Watershed Protection Programs, has to-date has protected nearly 80,000 acres east and west of the Hudson River.  Over 65,000 acres have either been acquired outright by the City or now have conservation easements held by the City. Nearly 15,000 additional acres have been protected by conservation easements through the Watershed Agricultural Council, using City funds.

All of the original provisions of the Land Acquisition Program will continue under the new FAD. The City will only be able to purchase property or conservation easements from willing sellers, and only undeveloped properties meeting certain eligibility criteria, including natural resource criteria and minimum size. The City will continue to pay full property taxes on parcels it acquires. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is also working with the watershed host communities to increase recreational and economic opportunities.

Other parts of the Watershed Protection Program have resulted in upgrades to City-owned and non-City-owned sewage treatment facilities throughout the watershed; new state-of-the-art sewage treatment plants for other watershed communities with concentrated areas of failing or likely to fail septic systems; repairs to more than 2,400 septic systems; development and implementation of pollution prevention plans on over 300 farms; improved management of forests, wetlands, and streams; better monitoring and modeling of watershed conditions; and comprehensive regulatory reviews of proposed development in all areas of the watershed. 

Under the new draft FAD, the City has made significant new programmatic commitments in many other areas, including: new resources for septic repairs, community wastewater solutions in select communities and storm water controls; continued implementation of stream restoration projects; enhancements to control polluted runoff from both small and large watershed farms; and a host of other initiatives designed to protect and enhance water quality. In addition, the City is proceeding with construction of a facility to provide enhanced water disinfection using ultraviolet light, the world’s largest, to provide additional water quality protection for consumers of Catskill/Delaware water.

Also covered in this FAD is further evaluation of structural options for control of turbidity in the basin of the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County. The City has agreed to conduct a full-scale study of potential engineering options which could be implemented at Ashokan Reservoir and to implement measures deemed effective and cost-effective. The study is already underway and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2007.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) manages New York City’s water supply, which is collected from three watersheds comprising nearly 2000 square miles, 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes and provides over one billion gallons of quality drinking water daily serving over half the population of New York State. The DEP manages 14 in-City wastewater treatment plans, as well as eight treatment plants upstate. DEP’s operations and investments translate into 1833 jobs in the West of Hudson watershed, and DEP pays over $100 million a year in taxes in the watershed.


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600