Water Watch NYC

Everything you need to know about water in NYC.


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A Closer Look at the Resignation of Jim Tripp

Any New Yorker who has ever gotten a traffic ticket while Mike Bloomberg has been in office likely knows about Bloomberg’s brilliant ideas to increase the city’s income without raising taxes.

For many years, one of the city’s greatest sources of income has been their lease agreement with the Water Board. The Water Board pays the city exorbitant amounts for their use of the reservoirs and tunnels. The amount paid depends not on the value of these systems but is a percentage of the DEP’s spending. The more the DEP spends on things like upkeep and expansion, the more revenue the city gets. The worst part is that the city doesn’t even have to use this money for water related issues. They can use it for anything from education to street paving.

The city has a similarly absurd agreement with the DEP regarding sanitation. Since dirty streets contaminate clean water when it rains, the city charges the DEP for street cleaning.

These are two of the biggest issues currently facing the DEP and the Water Board. Former Water Board Chair Jim Tripp fought hard against this type of backdoor financing and in July, 2008 considered resigning over the lease agreement. Was the city’s intransigence on this issue the straw that broke the camel’s back?

New York City will miss Jim Tripp’s perseverance.  Will the new Water Board Chair, Alan Moss, fight for what’s best for the residents of New York, or is he in the pocket of the city officials that got him appointed to the Water Board in the first place?


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A Slight Against Nature

The Delaware River Basin Commission, anticipating a drought, intends to limit the flow of cold water from the Cannonsville Reservoir to the surrounding rivers in order to keep more water contained in the reservoir. While this seems like a good thing (more water in the reservoir, more drinking water for New Yorkers), there is in fact a laundry list of reasons why this is a bad idea.

First of all, the trout of the surrounding rivers need a healthy flow of water continuously running through the area in order to thrive. A continuous flow of cold water is not only better for the fish, it is also better for the river itself, serving as a way to clean it out periodically. Water that is too warm or that is not flowing at a high enough rate isn’t good for the river or its fish.

This is just another example of New York City’s mistreatment of the environment of upstate New York and the Delaware Valley. Because our reservoirs take water that would otherwise flow into the Delaware and surrounding rivers, we are required to let some of the reservoirs’ water flow back into the area’s existing rivers. This is the job of the Delaware River Basin Commission. Instead of relying on gambling as a way to increase tourism upstate, we should cultivate and develop the existing tourist attractions provided to us by nature. Instead of suffocating these rivers to a trickle, we must allow them to thrive and to be a prime destination for canoeing, rafting, kayaking and fishing enthusiasts.

As I stand at Washington’s Crossing in Bucks County, seeing the once mighty Delaware River trickle by, I wonder about Washington’s great accomplishment and how it no longer seems significant at all. New York City, in its efforts to strip our great state of one of its greatest features, its beautiful and vast natural environment, has also minimized one of Washington’s greatest achievements.