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EPA Seeks Comments on City's Program to Avoid Filtering the Catskill-Delaware System; Agency Begins Review of City's Compliance with Filtration Avoidance Determination

Release Date: 12/08/1999
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(#99192) New York, New York -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is beginning a mid-course review of New York City's compliance with a 1997 decision to allow the City not to filter its Catskill/Delaware water supply, and the Agency wants input from the public. The Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) was issued in April 1997 for a five-year period. It allows the City to protect the quality of drinking water from this system by protecting the source through strong watershed protections. EPA's mid-course review is meant to take a close look at the City's compliance with the FAD, including its Watershed Rules and Regulations, which are a requirement of the filtration avoidance determination. The Agency will accept public comment on the City's compliance with the FAD until January 31, 2000. EPA will complete its review by April 15, 2000. The Agency also plans to schedule public information sessions to collect input from upstate and downstate communities.

"We welcome any and all input into this important mid-course review," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "While there have been no violations of federal drinking water standards for this system, EPA must be certain that the programs to protect water quality and, in turn, the health of the nine million consumers who rely on this system for their drinking water, are working according to plan."

The 1997 FAD requires the City to install microfiltration, or equivalent high-level treatment at sewage treatment plants to protect against parasites such as cryptosporidium and giardia; limit phosphorus discharges; and acquire, on a willing-seller basis, watershed properties critical to water quality protection. In addition, New York City is required to continue programs started under a FAD issued to the City by EPA in 1993, including its waterborne disease surveillance, Kensico Reservoir Remediation Program, Septic System Rehabilitation Program, spill response, waterfowl management and Watershed Agricultural Program, as well as other protective measures.

The FAD requires the city to design a filtration system that could be built if watershed protection is not sufficient to protect public health at the same time that the city is carrying out its watershed protection programs. In keeping with this dual track approach, the City must submit a draft preliminary design for filtration facilities by December 31, 2000 and a final design by December 31, 2005. Construction of the filtration system would be required if it is determined that the City is failing to meet the federal Surface Water Treatment Rule (SWTR), designed to protect human health.

A copy of the FAD and supporting information about the New York City Watershed can be obtained on the web at www.epa.gov/region2/water/nycshed/frontpg.htm.

Comments regarding the City's compliance with the FAD can be mailed to Jeff Gratz, U.S. EPA, 290 Broadway, 28th Floor, New York, New York 10007. Comments can also e-mailed to gratz.jeff@epamail.epa.gov.

For more information contact:

Mary Mears, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3669 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: mears.mary@epamail.epa.gov