Hudson River communities want a seat on Ashokan Releases Working Group
William J. Kemble reports for the Daily Freeman that the seven municipalities that take drinking water from the Hudson River want to be included in discussions about the discharge of muddy water from Ashokan Reservoir into the Lower Esopus Creek. Esopus, Lloyd, Hyde Park, the town and city of Poughkeepsie, and the town and village of Rhinebeck are known as the Hudson 7, and want to be full members of Ashokan Releases Working Group, which meets monthly to discuss problems associated with the discharged water. But an attorney for New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which operates the reservoir, opposes allowing a representative on the board. “It’s really the DEP’s lawyer who’s not having any of it,” said Shannon Harris, a Hudson 7 representative from Esopus. The Ashokan Releases Working Group includes representatives from Lower Esopus Creek municipalities, Ulster County, Riverkeeper, the Hurley-based Farm Hub, the DEP, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and the state Department of Health. The issue the towns want to address is the 600 million gallons of turbid, muddy water per day from the reservoir into the creek that the DEP has state permission to discharge. Village of Rhinebeck Mayor Gary Bassett said that is impacting the drinking water there. “When the turbidity exceeds a certain level, we have to shut off two of our pumps because they can’t handle it,” he said. “That slows down the processing of water, and then we also have an increase in the amount of our waste product that we have to deal with to haul away.” State Senator Michelle Hinchey, a Democrat based in Saugerties, agrees that the municipalities should be included. “Our watershed communities and the local organizations that are directly impacted by the suggestions and outcomes of this working group should have every opportunity to participate in the working group,” Hichney said in an email. “We’re hopeful that the working group will expand its membership to ensure that all voices are at the table….” Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.