PRESS RELEASE: NYC’s Proposed Sewage Plan Doesn’t Protect Public Health or Environment

 

 

 

For Immediate Release 

March 2, 2020

 

Martin Hain, mhain@savethsound.org, 914-381-3140

Roger Reynolds, rreynolds@ctenvironment.org, 203-787-0646

 

NYC’s Proposed Sewage Plan Doesn’t Protect Public Health or Environment

NY DEP’s Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) Recommended Plan Summary for Citywide/Open Waters Fails to Comply with the EPA’s CSO Control Policy and is not Guided by Sound Science, Save the Sound attorneys say

Save the Sound, a non-profit organization whose mission has been protecting clean water and restoring Long Island Sound ecosystems through hands-on science and community collaboration, legislative advocacy, and legal action, filed its comments Monday on the Department of Environmental Protection’s Combined Sewer Outflow (CSO) Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) Recommended Plan Summary for Citywide/Open Waters. A CSO combines stormwater and wastewater into the same system which causes raw sewage to be discharged into local waterways during heavy rainfalls when capacity levels are reached at the water treatment plants.

Click here to download the full comment letter.

Save the Sound attorneys noted concerns that DEP’s plan, as summarized, like previous New York City CSO plans before it, fails to comply with the EPA’s CSO Control Policy and is not guided by sound science. Consequently it fails to protect human health and the environment in and around the New York City area. Regarding the East River and Long Island Sound, the summary fails to:

  1. Utilize the correct dissolved oxygen Water Quality Standards and accurately characterize New York City waters’ fail to meet them,
  2. Analyze or address floatables and enterococcus,
  3. Consider a reasonable range of alternatives that are not entirely cost prohibitive,
  4. Analyze full, rather than partial, compliance with Water Quality Standards,
  5. Accurately characterize the impacts of climate change pursuant to New York policy, or
  6. Release its full Long Term Control Plan and supporting data for public review and comment.

“This Long Term Control Plan for the East River, Long Island Sound, and other city waters will determine DEP’s response for the next several decades to the billions of gallons of raw sewage and stormwater runoff discharged annually to city waters,” said Roger Reynolds, Senior Legal Counsel, Save the Sound. “New York City’s claim that its waters are healthy and meeting Water Quality Standards for dissolved oxygen are transparently false, as significant low-oxygen dead zones still appear in river and western Sound waters each year. The city must reach full compliance with Water Quality Standards as the Clean Water Act and their permit require, not the partial compliance the plan proposes. DEP and DEC must revise the plan according to law and sound science, and release it to the public for review to ensure a transparent process that will protect both human and ecological health.”

The considerable distortions in DEP’s characterizations of waters meeting Water Quality Standards undermine its conclusions and interpretation of data throughout the entire LTCP. As a result, DEP must not only redo its analysis to comply with law and sound principles of science, but it must release the entire LTCP (rather than a selective and deceptive summary), and the data upon which it relies, to the public for full review and comment to ensure a transparent, honest, and reliable process.

“For years, we have provided in person and written comments at public meetings, speaking in a united voice with concerned citizens and partner organizations that share our goal of healthy water for New Yorkers. Regrettably, the plans that DEP has put forward and DEC has approved do not reflect the concerns and priorities consistently communicated in these forums by the public,” said Tracy Brown, Director, Save the Sound. “This final Long Term Control Plan falls short, offering minimal investment in the waters of the East River and western Long Island Sound where the majority of the city’s swimming beaches are located and lots of water-based recreation takes place. Save the Sound calls on DEC to reject this final Long Term Control Plan and requests a new plan from DEP that is based on actual water quality criteria, takes into account the impacts of increased precipitation in our region, and reflects the interests of the public including meaningful protection of public health.”

Click here to download the full comment letter.


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