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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 8, 2015

United States And State Of New York Announce Start Up Of Croton Water Filtration Plant In Compliance With Mandates Of Federal Consent Decree



Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Judith A. Enck, Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 2, and Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General for the State of New York, announced today that the City of New York, in compliance with the Consent Decree and Supplements entered in this action, began distribution of filtered drinking water from its Croton Water Filtration Plant. Through the Croton Water Filtration Plant, the City of New York will have the ability to deliver 290 million gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to residents of the City. If the City had failed to meet the May 17, 2015 deadline for commencement of operation of the Croton Water Filtration Plant, the Consent Decree provided for stipulated penalties in the amount of $65 million.

In 1997, the United States brought suit against New York City to enforce the filtration requirements for its Croton System. Soon thereafter, the State of New York and its Commissioner of Health intervened in the suit as plaintiffs and are parties to the Consent Decree as supplemented. New York City is required to filter its Croton System under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Surface Water Treatment Rule (SWTR), as well as the New York State Sanitary Code. Under the SWTR, the City was required to implement filtration for its Croton System by June 29, 1993. By stipulation with the State of New York, the City agreed to begin construction of a filtration plant by July 1, 1996. When the City failed to comply with the Stipulation, the United States filed its suit to compel filtration of the Croton System. The United States and the State of New York have vigorously enforced the terms of the Consent Decree, resulting in the City constructing the Croton Filtration Plant and paying $5,064,000 in penalties to date for missed deadlines associated with the delays in the project schedule. Under the Consent Decree, the City was also required to conduct interim measures including monitoring the quality and safety of the Croton System and implementing watershed protection measures.

Filtering drinking water obtained from surface water sources, such as the Croton System, reduces the risk of waterborne disease. These sources are susceptible to potential contamination from disease causing organisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium which can easily get into surface water supplies from human activity and animals. Filtration, coupled with disinfection and source water protection, is the best means of ensuring the safety of drinking water from the City’s Croton water supply.

“The United States brought this action in 1997 to ensure that New York City residents are provided with safe drinking water from the Croton Water Supply. Through many years of litigation, enforcement and negotiation, this office has persevered to ensure that construction of the filtration plant was completed and that filtered water will be available to New York City residents from the Croton System. I am pleased that our enforcement efforts have come to fruition and the residents of New York City will have a high quality filtered drinking water supply,” said Acting United States Attorney Currie.

“New Yorkers deserve to have the highest quality water possible," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "The EPA required New York City to build a filtration plant to protect people from Giardia and Cyrptosporidium, both of which can cause serious illness. The Croton Water Filtration plant will provide millions with a safe source of drinking water, which is essential to protecting public health.”

“Water from the Croton Watershed system has been critical to New Yorkers for more than a century, since the Croton Aqueduct began operating in 1842. Bringing this water filtration plant on-line is a major step forward in ensuring that drinking water from the watershed remains safe and available to New York City residents. It is also a critically-needed investment in New York's public infrastructure. My office will continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to ensure that the city's compliance with the remaining obligations of the consent decree,” said New York Attorney General Schneiderman.

The action is entitled United States and State of New York v. City of New York and New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Civil Action No. 97-CV-2154 (Gershon, J.) (Gold, M.J.). The action was litigated and the Consent Decree was negotiated by Assistant United States Attorney Deborah B. Zwany, Elizabeth Yu, U. S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Andrew Gershon, New York State Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from EPA Region 2, Phyllis Feinmark, Regional Counsel’s Office, Doughlas McKenna, Chief of the Water Compliance Branch, and Nicole Kraft, Chief of the Ground Water Compliance Section, and the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Water Supply Protection.

Updated July 2, 2015