County Executive Ryan Calls For The NYC DEP to be Held Accountable for Lower Esopus Turbid Discharge, Encourages Public to Submit Comments

Posted May 4, 2021

County Executive Ryan was joined by Senator Michelle Hinchey as well as area business and environmental leaders in calling on NYC DEP to pursue alternatives to turbid releases to the Lower Esopus Creek from the Ashokan Reservoir.

County Executive Ryan reminds the public comments regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement are due June 16th

SAUGERTIES, N.Y. - Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan was joined by NYS Senator Michelle Hinchey and area business and environmental leaders to highlight the impacts to the Lower Esopus Creek of turbid water discharges made by New York City Department of Environmental Protection from the Ashokan Reservoir.  

“We are acutely aware in Ulster County that for generations, the City of New York has benefited from and depended upon our clean water,” said County Executive Pat Ryan. “Today we are simply asking for accountability. The NYC DEP relies on our resources in Ulster County to supply water for 9 million of their residents. If you are going to use our resources, you should also be held accountable for the impact that you have to our environment and to our communities. I am encouraging all residents concerned about protecting our environment to make their voice heard by June 16th.”

“The staggeringly high levels of turbidity in the Lower Esopus Creek pose a direct threat to our quality of life, our tourism economy, our local businesses and recreational activities, and our precious wildlife,” said Senator Michelle Hinchey. “The way the system is working is not working, and with severe storms growing in number year over year, sustained turbidity will only get worse for the Esopus Creek and surrounding communities. We need transparency into the actions taken and a good faith effort to bring mitigating solutions to the table. I stand with our watershed communities and local business owners in the call for the Lower Esopus Creek to be restored and protected, as it should be, and urge all Ulster County residents to make their voices heard with public comment by the June 16th deadline.”

 “We are fortunate today to be hosted by Diamond Mills, one of our communities premier dining, hotel and event venues on the banks of the Esopus Creek,” said President of the Ulster Regional Chamber of Commerce Ward Todd. “The Esopus Creek is an environmental treasure to the community and a valuable asset to our local businesses. It is critical that NYC DEP do the right thing for our environment, our community and our businesses and find alternative solutions to these muddy water releases.”

"The damage being caused by releases of muddy water into the Lower Esopus Creek is extreme and unacceptable, especially given that New York City has it in its power to reduce or eliminate them,” President and Hudson Riverkeeper Paul Gallay. “The City needs to take responsibility and implement real structural solutions to the problems they are causing, and the State needs to hold their feet to the fire until they do."  

Since late December of 2020, NYC DEP has released billions of gallons of turbid water, containing millions of pounds of sediment. This practice, including the release of this highly turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir, is currently under review by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the NYC DEP has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement concerning the use of the Ashokan Release Channel.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the NYC DEP regarding the releases to the Lower Esopus can be found on the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s website at Written comment concerning the Draft EIS should be submitted to Kristen Cady-Poulin, Environmental Analyst, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233, Phone: 518-402-9167, E-mail: DEPPermitting[at]dec.ny[dot]gov. Comments sent by regular mail must be postmarked no later than June 16, 2021. E-mail comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. June 16, 2021.