Sewage-Treatment Plants Are Faulted in Study

The New York Times (Late Edition - Final), October 3, 1997
Section B, Page 8, Column 6, Metropolitan Desk

More than a dozen small sewage-treatment plants are fouling the Catskill and Delaware watersheds, which feed New York City's water supply, but environmental officials have done little to halt the pollution, according to a report released yesterday by the City Comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi.

The audit reviewed the 14 upstate treatment plants and found that each plant often exceeded allowable levels of fecal coliform and other pollutants. Yet city regulators failed to take forceful action to remedy the problems, the report concluded.

The city's Department of Environmental Protection has a ''pattern of lax enforcement that allows repeated discharge of pollutants into the city's water supply,'' Mr. Hevesi said. He added that the condition ''is unsafe and could lower the quality of our drinking water.''

Joel A. Miele Sr., the city's Commissioner of Environmental Protection, said the report was conducted by auditors who lacked the technical background to understand the issue and who failed to take into account developments in the last year.