Friends of the Croton Watershed

December 16, 1996 - Meeting with the DEP at Yorktown

The Friends of the Croton Watershed believe that filtration avoidance is the only right course of action for the Croton Watershed. On this point we are in agreement with the Friends of the Jerome Park Reservoir, the Bronx Water Alliance and the Sierra Club among others. We in Westchester and New York City need clean water -- not water that has been polluted and then, supposedly, cleansed. The experience of Milwaukee demonstrates that filtration is not a solution.

The Croton Watershed has been treated like a poor relation. The recent Watershed Agreement mainly concerns the Delaware-Catskill system with our Croton mentioned as afterthought. The agreement provides no meaningful protection for our watershed. This is not acceptable to those who drink water from the Croton watershed. Nor is the proposed solution of the construction of a $600 million dollar industrial filtration site acceptable.

The DEP has examined sites for this massive plant in the Bronx, Yonkers and Yorktown. Last summer, without even the courtesy of requesting a permit for work in wetlands from Yorktown, the DEP set up a drilling barge in the Croton reservoir.

Now, however, the DEP says no decision has been made whether filtration is necessary. If no decision has been made, why were they drilling in Yorktown and examining other sites? What efforts are being made to explore filtration avoidance? If the DEP is committed to an open process why did they disband, unilaterally, the Site Selection Committee and the Citizens' Advisory Committee? And why did the DEP Commissioner, Joel A. Miele, hold a separate meeting for elected and appointed officials a week before this public meeting?

The Friends of the Croton Watershed want the DEP to spend their (our) money on filtration avoidance. This would include protection for the buffer zones, working with Westchester communities in efforts to protect the watershed, and especially a committed effort to clean up sewage treatment plants. There are over 60 sewage treatment plants in the Watershed that empty their effluent into our, and New York City's, drinking water.

Yorktown, for example, draws water from the Amawalk where the Town of Carmel and others discharge their effluent. Yorktown's sewage plant discharges into the Muscoot. The DEP should work to unite the watershed communities in protecting our water.

It makes economic sense to put money into cleaning the watershed, upgrading plants rather than building a major industrial site in the Bronx, Yonkers or Yorktown -- or anywhere in the Watershed. Protecting and cleaning the watershed will provide jobs, protect our water and health, and protect the quality of life in all our communities. We are all allies in the fight to provide clean water for ourselves and the generations to follow.

Mickie Grover

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