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City’s clean water earns a filtration waiver

A young girl drinks from a NYC Water water fountain.
Photo Courtesy NYC Water
By Gina Martinez

After the success of the watershed program that has provided New Yorkers with high quality tap water, the city Department of Environmental Protection announced a new 10-year filtration waiver.

DEP said it had received a 10-year waiver, known as a Filtration Avoidance Determination, to continue delivering unfiltered drinking water from its Catskill and Delaware water supply systems to New Yorkers in all five boroughs. According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city will commit an estimated $1 billion over the next decade to comply with the FAD waiver by administering programs that protect the upstate reservoirs and the watershed lands that surround them.

“This confirms what every New Yorker knows: We have some of the cleanest and best tap water in the world,” he said. “I would like to thank the 6,000 city employees who made this possible by working tirelessly to operate, maintain and protect our water sources.”

The city’s watershed protection programs have been praised as a worldwide model for safeguarding the quality of drinking water at its source. The Catskill and Delaware systems comprise the largest unfiltered water supply in the United States, delivering about 90 percent of New York City’s water everyday. Tests have shown that water from these two systems continue to meet the stringent criteria required to avoid filtration. The Croton System, which supplies 10 percent of the city’s water became filtered in 2015. Combined the three reservoirs provide about 1.1 billion gallons of water a day to 8.5 million consumers in the five boroughs and another 1 million people in four counties north of the City.

The success of the watershed program has allowed the city to avoid the construction of a costly filtration plant for its Catskill and Delaware supplies, which could cost more than $10 billion to construct and upwards of $100 million to operate each year.

DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said the renewal of the city’s filtration waiver underscores that the five boroughs have some of the highest quality and best protected drinking water in the world and it is not by accident.

“Since the city received its first filtration waiver in the early 1990s, we have protected open space around our reservoirs, invested in wastewater upgrades, forged partnerships with watershed farmers, and focused considerable attention on the forests, streams and wetlands that comprise the natural infrastructure of our water supply.” he said.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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