Delaware Riverkeeper Network Joins With Downstream Land Owners to Challenge 17,000 Gallon Per Day Wastewater Discharge Into Pristine Local Stream Halfway Brook
Sullivan County, NY: The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has joined with downstream residents to challenge a permit issued by the New York State Department of Conservation (NYDEC) allowing the discharge of 17,000 gallons per day of wastewater into Halfway Brook with out at least first holding a public hearing. The wastewater discharge is to serve a redevelopment project including a 4,000-square-foot (sq. ft.) restaurant and bar, 28 lodging units in nine buildings, and a 2,400-sq. ft. event space. The proposal would allow the discharge to be at the very headwaters of the Halfway Brook, a pristine stream that challengers say is entitled to a higher level of protection than was provided by the NYDEC permit.
“Halfway Brook is a beautiful, healthy stream that supports both resident and stocked trout populations, is used by residents for swimming, and provides important and beautiful habitats enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is tremendously concerned about the impacts of this wastewater discharge on both the health of the stream and supported natural resources, as well as the way people view and use the stream and its surrounding habitats. Despite the outpouring of comments and concerns, including expert reviews, the NYDEC did not even do the community the courtesy of holding public hearings as required by law. This is the wrong treatment option in the wrong location and it was wrong of NYDEC to not give the public the hearing we are entitled to. We believe there are absolultely other alternatives that would support the proposed development and best protect the stream, NYDEC just didn't require them,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
The Article 78 Petition filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Sullivan County seeks a judgement that “DEC abused its discretion, and acted arbitrarily and capriciously, and in violation of lawful procedure, by issuing the SPDES Permit without first holding a public hearing”; and that the court nullify the approved permit, and require that NYSDEC hold an adjudicatory hearing to further consider the appropriateness of issuing a permit and the terms for wastewater treatment that should be included. A copy of the petition can be found on the Delaware Riverkeeper Network website at: https://delawareriverkeeper.org/sites/default/files/2019%2007%2018%20Petition.pdf
May 22, 2019, the NY state Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) issued a permit that will allow 17,000 gallons per day of treated wastewater to be discharged from an expanding Eldred Preserve facility (EP) to the high quality Halfway Brook. The NYSDEC held no hearings despite an outpouring from the public asking for them. The NYSDEC didn't require a thorough investigation of other treatment alternatives that could have avoided all, or at least some of the discharge. The NYSDEC mandate didn't use of the best technologies and/or alternatives available for treating and disposing of the EP wastewater.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the community teamed up to submit significant and meaningful comment but NYSDEC still didn't bother with a hearing and was quick to issue the requested permit.
Our only option now is to challenge the permit in court.
In order to pursue this legal challenge the Delaware Riverkeeper Network will need to hire outside counsel which means we will need significant community contributions and support. Please consider donating today. Funds raised will be used to support pursuing a legal challenge to the issued permit including hiring outside counsel, supporting needed expert reviews, and supporting all of the organization costs and work needed to pursue this important legal challenge. If you want to contribute you can do so here.
We want to be upfront with all potential donors, we will not be able to pursue the legal challenge unless we raise the needed level of funding. We are currently speaking with legal counsel about what that figure will be. We are hopeful that another potential plaintiff will join forces with us lessening the amount we need to raise, but for now the total cost needed is in the $50,000 range. If we are unable to raise the funds needed to pursue a legal challenge we will be in touch with donors who contributed over $500 about using their support for other important NY focused initiatives. Unless stated otherwise we will presume that donors giving less than this amount are in agreement with that approach.
Background: The permit issued allows for the discharge of 17,000 gallons per day of wastewater to Halfway Brook, a stream with high water quality and recreational value. The proposed wastewater treatment plant will serve redevelopment of a motel, restaurant, and bar including a 4,000-square-foot (sq. ft.) restaurant and bar, 28 lodging units in nine buildings, and a 2,400-sq. ft. event space. The proposal would allow the discharge to be at the very headwaters of the Halfway Brook. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network submitted comment to NYDEC to urge that the proposed wastewater discharge be rejected, and that instead the applicant should be required to consider, propose and pursue a non-discharge alternative that will be most protective of water quality in the Halfway Brook and most protective of the downstream communities who enjoy the many recreational and ecological values the stream provides. We do not believe that NYDEC gave appropriate consideration to the options that would have avoided or lessened the water quality impacts on this cherished stream used by many for swimming, fishing and enjoying nature.
While the official comment period is closed, if you are still outraged and want to express it to NYDEC, you can do so by sending your comments to:
Sarah A PawliczakNYSDEC Region 3 Headquarters
21 S Putt Corners Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561
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