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Andy Simek | Democrat

A VIEW OF the Neversink Reservoir at sunset. The city will not have to filter its water, thanks to a federal ruling.

Senator Bonacic: 'FAD is B-A-D'

By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY — June 15, 2007 — NYS Senators John Bonacic and James Seward have joined forces to start a petition drive against the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The two upstate Republicans have created a Website,, calling for the federal government to not issue a 10-year Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) to the DEP for its upstate water supply.
Traditionally, the city has had to ask for a FAD every five years, allowing it to minimally filter the drinking water it stores in six upstate reservoirs, including the Neversink and Rondout in Sullivan County.
If the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ever doesn’t renew the DEP’s FAD, New York City will have to build a filtration plant(s) costing billions of dollars.
The city has long sought to avoid that situation, saying not only that it’s costly but unnecessary considering the purity of the Catskill Mountain supply.
“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 DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd.
Bonacic and Seward see it in a different light.
“The federal government’s proposed 10-year FAD gives New York City license to abuse and overregulate watershed communities for ten years with impunity,” said Bonacic. “The DEP has not worked with area residents to make septic systems affordable, refuses to address flooding and has limited recreational use of its lands.”
Ironically, Congressman Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat who represents the area in the House of Representatives, favors the FAD extension.
“All of us must work together to ensure that the watershed continues to be safeguarded so that a filtration system is never needed,” he said. “If a filtration system were to be installed, it would essentially be treated as a green light for the pollution of the watershed. This is not how the watershed should be treated, and I am pleased that the EPA and NYC recognize that.”
He also pointed out that under the draft FAD, the city has set aside $300 million to acquire undeveloped land at fair market value within the watershed area.
The DEP declined to comment on Bonacic and Seward’s efforts.
But in a prepared statement, Commissioner Lloyd said that the DEP, through the FAD application, is committing new resources for septic repairs, community wastewater solutions, stormwater controls, stream restoration projects and farm runoff control efforts. She indicated these would not be possible if the city had to invest in a filtration plant instead.
Bonacic and company remain unimpressed, however, and are pushing a petition that people can sign online asking the EPA to not approve a final FAD, which would be binding.
“We want to energize the grassroots of the watershed area and encourage citizens to speak up against a 10-year FAD and all that it could mean for the area,” said Seward. “The petition is an important opportunity for people to get involved in determining the future of the watershed communities. I encourage everyone to sign on now.”
When contacted this week, Bonacic could not give an exact count of those who signed the online petition, but he said 30 municipalities have already approved resolutions against the 10-year FAD.
The Upper Delaware Council (UDC) also opposes the extension, although it does support maintaining the water quality and increased efforts to avoid filtration.
However, UDC Board Chair F. Gerald Mackin, in a letter unanimously approved by the UDC Board in May, wrote, “We believe that the FAD should be capped at a five-year period to better address some of these concerns” – including local issues like land acquisition, a higher flow rate in concert with better flood mitigation in the Delaware River, aqueduct leaks, and better coordination between the city and upstate communities.
“A 10-year grace period from the need to build a filtration plant might prompt New York City to take a relaxed attitude toward the concerns and needs of communities in the Delaware River watershed,” warned Mackin.
The deadline for comment is June 30.

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