New York's Laws Fail to Protect State's Rivers and Streams

Date: 
Sun, 09/14/2008
09/15/2008

New York’s Laws Fail to Protect State’s Rivers and Streams

September 15, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Kirt Mayland, (646) 302-3639
Erin Mooney, (571) 331-7970

New York’s Laws Fail to Protect State’s Rivers and Streams
Report Details Where Laws and Systems Fall Short in Protecting the State’s Waters

Albany, N.Y. –As New York incurs pressure from its growing, thirsty population, and as natural gas drilling and irrigation increase throughout the state, a Trout Unlimited (TU) report issued today points out that New York does not have a comprehensive water management plan in place to adequately protect its freshwater resources.

"New York has the weakest water withdrawal and streamflow laws in the Northeast, and the state of its river and streams reflects this,” said Kirt Mayland, Director of TU's Eastern Water Project. “With increasing sprawl and global climate change and a myriad of other stresses on the state’s watersheds, now is the time to start regulating New York’s critical freshwater resources more carefully."

TU’s new report, “Tapped Out: New York’s Water Woes,” spells out how the state’s systems for water withdrawals, river management, and municipal water supplies don’t adequately protect New York’s water resources.  With sprawl, an increasing state population, and a host of demands on state water resources, New York needs comprehensive laws to protect its water. In addition, the report points out, many municipal systems are aging and lose much of the water that is intended for public use.

“Trout Unlimited has put together an excellent report which highlights a wide assortment of serious problems with the current state of water quality,” said New York Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, chair of the NYS Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. “The need to address these concerns is acute. A recent study conducted by the Department of Environmental Conservation, at my request, exposed the huge shortfall in resources for waste water,” he said.

“New York State’s sewage-treatment infrastructure is aging and in need of an estimated $36.2 billion in repairs,” Sweeney continued. “This situation is primarily caused by the breathtaking withdrawal of federal funding. The Federal government provided 78% of the funding for wastewater infrastructure in 1978, but merely 3% today. The report smartly highlights the effect of water withdrawals on aquatic and terrestrial species. These considerations are critical as we seek to place a proper balance on the use of these resources,” Sweeney said.

New York has 60,000 miles of streams and rivers that provide over 20 million residents with drinking water and support habitat for a wealth of fish and wildlife. The state receives an average of almost 40 inches of precipitation a year, yet there are thousands of miles of rivers and streams across New York that do not have enough water to support native, aquatic life.
“We have always taken our free-flowing streams for granted,” said Ron Urban, the Port Ewen-based chair of TU’s New York’s Council. “But this new report makes clear that we need to take serious steps now to make sure our coldwater streams and rivers in New York have enough water, for fish and wildlife habitat.”

The full report is available at www.tu.org/tappedout.

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Date: 9/15/2008

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