Hudson River communities want to be included in Ashokan Reservoir spill discussions – Daily Freeman

Municipalities that draw drinking water from the Hudson River are asking to be included in discussions about the release of muddy water from the Ashokan Reservoir into Lower Esopus Creek.

The municipalities – Esopus, Lloyd, Hyde Park, the town and city of Poughkeepsie, and the town and village of Rhinebeck – form a group known as Hudson 7.

Communities say they want to be full members of the Ashokan Discharge Task Force, which meets monthly to discuss issues related to discharged water, but an attorney from the Department of Protection of the New York City Environment, which operates the reservoir, opposes granting them a seat. at the table.

“It’s really the DEP attorney who doesn’t care,” said Shannon Harris, a representative for Esopus’ Hudson 7.

The Ashokan Release Task Force currently includes representatives from the municipalities of Lower Esopus Creek, Ulster County, Riverkeeper, the Hurley-based Farm Hub, DEP and the State Department of Conservation. Environment and the State Department of Health.

At Esopus, the Port Ewen Aquatic District Hudson River Intake is approximately 12 miles south of where Lower Esopus Creek meets the Hudson River at Saugerties, and it can be affected by the muddy water flowing downstream.

Harris said water treatment plants in Hudson 7 communities “have been directly impacted by high turbidity readings, and that’s triggering a whole series of protocols on our part to clean up the water.”

DEP has state approval to release up to 600 million gallons of cloudy, muddy water per day from the reservoir into the creek to prevent the reservoir from overfilling, creating a flood hazard downstream. during periods of heavy rain, and to keep the water discolored. to reach the faucets of New York City water users.

Village of Rhinebeck Mayor Gary Bassett said New York City is putting its community in a difficult position as it seeks $6.5 million for much-needed upgrades to its water treatment plant.

“When the turbidity goes above a certain level, we have to shut down two of our pumps because they can’t handle it,” he said. “It slows down water treatment, and we also have an increase in the amount of our waste that we have to process to transport it.”

Bassett also said Hudson 7 members were allowed to listen in on a recent Ashokan Releases Task Force meeting, but were not allowed to ask questions.

DEP spokesman Adam Bosch said in an email that joining the Hudson 7 to the task force was being discussed by a subcommittee of the group’s members, but he didn’t say. the position taken by his agency.

State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, Sadi’s shoreline communities should be included in Ashokan Reservoir release discussions.

“Our watershed communities and local organizations that are directly affected by the suggestions and results of this task force should be given every opportunity to participate in the task force,” Hichney said in an email. “We hope the task force will expand its membership to ensure that all voices are at the table….”

Harris said she understands allowing river communities to join in the discussion would mean DEP “essentially owns the fact that these sediments are settling in the Hudson River.”

“In their report, they basically say no sediment is settling in the Hudson, so that opened up a Pandora’s box, and they really can’t have it both ways,” she said.

Similarly, Ulster County Department of Environment Coordinator Amanda LaValle, who is supporting the Hudson 7’s efforts to join the Ashokan task force, said the DEP did not want to “give a platform”. form a group to talk about the impacts on the Hudson when they’re trying to… say there’s no impact on the Hudson.

LaValle also said she found it interesting that Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog group, was allowed to join the task force because of its expertise in issues affecting the Hudson River, but communities that could be directly affected find it difficult to be accepted.

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