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Old 05-15-2009, 02:55 PM
shane shane is offline
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Default NYC community boards pass resolutions to protect drinking water

NEW YORK CITY, NY — New York City residents enjoy some of the finest water in the country, drawn from the Catskill and Delaware watersheds, which supply nine million city residents with 90 percent of their unfiltered drinking water.
The non-profit group, NYH2O, has begun fighting to maintain that purity against the possible impacts of natural gas extraction, one New York City community board at a time. With 59 boards, the task is daunting, but early responses have been encouraging to the group, which has already influenced eight boards to pass resolutions calling for a ban on drilling within the city’s watershed.
The effort is spearheaded by NYH2O, which formed several months ago in response to the rush to develop the Marcellus Shale, which underlies parts of Sullivan County and surrounding areas.
The special type of drilling required, known as hydraulic fracturing, calls for between three to five million gallons of water laced with 250 chemicals of varying toxicity to “frack” a single well. The water is injected deep under the earth and only partially recovered. Other potential sources of contamination include leakage from uncovered wastewater storage pits or tanks.
“We began to understand that drilling within the watershed is ultimately a public health issue, and we started taking that message out. It’s catching on like wildfire,” said Mav Moorhead, who co-chairs NYH2O’s Community Board Committee along with Ann Arlen. “Once people become aware of the possible impacts to the health of so many people and the economic implications, it really gets their attention.”
Moorhead and others have developed a presentation about natural gas that they deliver at board meetings.
New York City Council member James F. Gennaro stirred intense interest in the issue by sponsoring city council legislation calling on the state legislature, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and Governor Paterson to prohibit drilling for natural gas in the watershed’s boundaries.
Part of his message included the potential economic impact if contamination of the city’s drinking water were to occur. The city’s water supply is one of only a few in the nation exempt from federal filtration requirements. In the event of contamination, the federal government could require the installation of a filtration system, estimated at a cost of more than $10 million dollars to city taxpayers, according to Gennaro.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who released the report, “Uncalculated Risk: How Plans to Drill for Gas in Upstate New York Could Threaten New York City’s Water System,” in February 2009, has called for a moratorium on drilling permits throughout the state of New York, along with a ban on drilling within the city’s watershed.
New York State Senator Frank Padavan (Queens) and Assemblymember James F. Brennan (D-Brooklyn) have also announced their intention to reintroduce legislation to prevent the immediate drilling of oil and gas wells in upstate New York.
Members of NYH2O are nearly finished meeting with the Manhattan community boards, and Moorhead is now targeting the Bronx. She expects another four boards to pass resolutions in June, and she plans to keep making calls, scheduling meetings and getting out the message.
“It’s been an intense amount of work,” said Moorhead. “But it’s definitely worth it. We won’t stop until it’s stopped.”
NYH2O is also partnering with other groups across the country in working to repeal the federal exemptions granted to the oil and gas industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
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