Environmental group Riverkeeper is accusing City of Kingston officials of violating New York’s new Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law. Kingston’s mayor disagrees.
Tracy Brown, a water quality advocate for Westchester-based Riverkeeper, describes New York State’s new law.
She says in the case of Kingston, the discharge into Twaalfskill Brook, a tributary of Rondout Creek, was reported to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation by July 8, but not to the public until July 16, and via a press release. Here’s Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo.
He says it took a few days to identify the source, a collapsed sewer line between the Washington Avenue tunnel and the Wilbur Avenue sanitary sewer. Nevertheless, Riverkeeper’s Brown says the public had a right to know about the contamination sooner.
She says Riverkeeper learned of the contamination from a Wilbur Avenue resident whose property includes part of the brook.
Mayor Gallo questions Riverkeeper’s sampling methods.
Brown says Riverkeeper took samples at the discharging pipe as well as downstream, and found fecal contamination levels more than 1,000 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for safe swimming and primary contact.
Going forward, with any sewage contamination issue, here’s Gallo’s notification plan.
He points out that the work on repairing the sewer overflow issue is separate from ongoing efforts on the Washington Avenue sinkhole, where work is scheduled for the end of September.
As for the Sewage Right to Know Law, a DEC spokeswoman has previously said that the first component of the law went into effect May 1 by which publicly owned treatment works and sewer systems must notify DEC and the state Health Department of all raw or partially treated discharges within two hours of when they occur. She says a second component of the law requires publicly owned treatment works and sewer systems to notify the public directly when discharges occur. DEC is developing regulations and evaluating computerized notification systems for this portion of the law.
Information on discharges received from public wastewater systems is available on the Sewage Discharge Reports web page of the DEC at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/90321.html