NORWICH – New York City wants to have it both ways. They want their drinking water from upstate watersheds, but they don’t want to follow federal regulations requiring it to be filtered.
Last week, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection requested a 10-year extension on a permit that allows it to buy land around upstate reservoirs. The DEP’s current permit expires in 2012. The move is connected to a federal Environmental Protection Agency ruling that allows downstate to avoid building filtration systems at 19 reservoirs in the Catskills as long as it boosts protection around the watersheds by acquiring land.
The extension request comes as NYC officials voice their opposition to the potential for natural gas drilling. They want to make sure that they can still retain ownership of land around the reservoirs in order to stop gas companies from exploring there.
What’s ironic is that one of the reasons the NYCDEP opposed drilling is they claim the horizontal technique called hydrofraking uses fluids that are largely unregulated through an exemption from the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act.
“Many people complain about the gas industry because they supposedly have an exemption from EPA rules. Guess who else has one? New York City,” said Chenango County Natural Gas Committee Chairman Peter C. Flanagan, D-Preston.
Flanagan pointed to the Preston Springs, a water source that for hundreds of years served residents in his small town and in nearby Oxford. The springs, located adjacent to county Road 4, were closed back in 2004 when the Village of Oxford transferred the last remaining homes connected to it to the village’s water plant. Keeping the springs up to date with regulations proved cost prohibitive for Preston and Oxford.