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Stop the NY DEC From Slashing Water Quality Testing

I’m reposting an email from Lee Willbanks, the executive director of Save The River, which advocates for the St. Lawrence:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has slashed the state’s water quality testing budget and is now proposing to slash the state’s hazardous pollutant testing guidelines - reducing testing from once every 5 years to once every 10 years…or less. Urge DEC to keep a 5-year waterway testing schedule – testing our waters once every 10 years is not enough.In response to the budget sequester, last fall DEC cut its statewide water quality monitoring budget by a third, from $640K to $440k a year. This budget cut included the elimination of testing for pathogens (sewage) and pesticides.  We know from the State’s data that sewage pollution and pesticides pose a serious threat to our waterways and our health.  We need more data, not less, on the location and magnitude of these pollutants.Tell DEC we need to continue testing for sewage pollution and pesticides in our waterways – these programs should be reinstated.

DEC’s proposed new guidelines also make it more difficult for water quality data from outside sources, like Riverkeepers, to be considered by the State when making water quality assessments and plans. We need more sources of data, not fewer, to track and address water quality pollution. Urge DEC to broaden – not narrow the scope of water quality data it uses.

A water quality data blackout is bad for our environment, our health and our economy.  Please join us in calling for the restoration of our statewide water quality monitoring programs to 2012 levels of funding, staffing and testing.

Use this email template to tell DEC “Restore water quality monitoring programs to 2012 levels. You can personalize this email with your own examples of what robust water quality monitoring means to you and your experience of the River:
email address:  jamyers@gw.dec.state.ny.us

subject line:  Please restore water quality monitoring programs to 2012 levels

text:

Please accept these comments on the Draft Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (CALM) posted January 2014. The proposed CALM guidelines commit DEC to monitoring the waters of NY once every ten years or less frequently.  This is not often enough to manage pollution and protect the health of our waterbodies and the health of the public who swim, boat and fish.  I urge you to maintain the current water monitoring and assessment schedule of testing water in each basin of the state once every 5 years, or more frequently.

I am concerned about the presence of pollutants in our waterbodies and rely on DEC to test for all the pollutants that impact the health of our waterways.  In particular, I am concerned about exposure to the disease-causing pathogens found in sewage pollution.  I understand that DEC has recently cut pathogen and pesticide testing altogether and implore you to reinstate testing for those pollutants immediately.  Without regular testing and reporting on pathogens/sewage-contamination, public health is put at risk and the sources of pollution are left undetected.

Finally, the revised CALM guidelines include strict limits on the sources of outside water quality data that DEC will use to assess the health of NY’s waterbodies and limits staff’s ability to use their professional judgment in reviewing data sources.  In light of the limited resources available to the DEC to gather water quality data, I urge you to reconsider this position and establish clear, attainable guidelines for data collection that can be met by the non-profit organizations, academic institutions and civic groups involved in water testing.  Access to more data will allow DEC to identify pollution sources, and take action to remedy them more quickly – saving valuable waterways from slipping into greater impairment from which it is harder and more costly to recover.

Like so many New Yorkers, I consider clean water one of our most valuable resources.  Please invest our clean water dollars in a robust water quality monitoring and assessment program that conducts regular and thorough testing of our waterways and utilizes all reliable sources of water quality data.

Thank you.

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