NYSDEC and the City of Newburgh Announce Agreement to Improve Water Quality in the Hudson River

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NYSDEC and the City of Newburgh Announce Agreement to Improve Water Quality in the Hudson River

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and City of Newburgh today announced an agreement to improve the overall water quality in the Hudson River. Under this agreement, Newburgh will invest approximately $39 million over the next 15 years to improve local water quality and better protect public health from discharges of stormwater and untreated sewage during heavy rain events.

"Protecting water quality is essential to preserving vital habitats and protecting recreational opportunities in the Hudson River," said Acting Commission Basil Seggos. "I applaud the City of Newburgh for working collaboratively with DEC to develop this cost-effective solution to improve water quality and upgrade City infrastructure."

Newburgh, like other older urban communities, is largely serviced by a combined sewer system where stormwater runoff and sewage are carried through a single system. During heavy storms, the system may reach capacity and must discharge a mix of stormwater and untreated sewage through overflow outlets before it reaches the City's wastewater treatment plant. These outfalls are known as combined sewer overflows or CSOs. If the overflows were not discharged, Newburgh's wastewater treatment plant would be flooded and unable to treat wastewater.

Newburgh City Manager, Michael Ciaravino said, "The City of Newburgh recognizes the economic, social and environmental impacts from combined sewer overflows and has been working diligently to usher in a new era of upgraded wastewater infrastructure to protect public health and safety, facilitate economic development through wastewater capacity, and to protect the water quality of the Quassaick Creek and Hudson River. The recent agreement between the City of Newburgh and the NYSDEC on the Long Term CSO Control Plan will utilize an aggressive 15 year compliance schedule involving several large wastewater infrastructure projects to achieve these goals."

As a result of the required water quality improvements from the Long-Term Control Plan (LTCP) announced today, releases of untreated sewage and stormwater mix will be significantly reduced and discharge of floatable debris will be minimized.

"This agreement is historic and will result in the reduction of almost 100 million gallons of pollution into the Hudson River every year--eliminating more than half of Newburgh's combined sewage overflow," said Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper's Water Quality Program Manager. "The Hudson River and Quassaick Creek are extraordinary communities of life, not sewers. While we wish we could immediately and completely stop all pollution, it will take time to fix infrastructure problems created over more than a century. In the meantime, the DEC and the city deserve our thanks for the plan's important goal of making the Hudson River safe for swimming at Newburgh's waterfront."

The approved CSO LTCP implements the work in a phased manner that focuses on improving the performance of the combined sewer system, conveyance capacity of the sewer and treatment capacity of the plant. A majority of the improvement projects will be completed within 10 years. Once the LTCP is fully implemented, Newburgh will be able to capture more than 85 percent of the CSO volume and treat it for bacteria and sewage-related floatable waste.

Newburgh has already started with implementation of the LTCP. To date, Newburgh has secured over $2.4 million of funding from the Environmental Facilities Corporation for work that will help them meet their LTCP. The $2.4 million is funded by the EFC's Storm Mitigation Loan Program (SMLP), where the 25 percent is a grant and 75 percent is a zero-interest loan. The City also qualifies for a "hardship" designation which allows them to receive the zero percent interest loans. Additionally, the hardship designation makes Newburgh eligible for future grants.