Letter to the Waterwire Editor, re: CSO signage and public notification

Dear Ms. Simko,

The lastest Waterwire included a piece on CSOs that caught the eye of many members of the SWIM Coalition — a coalition of dozens of groups, which advocates with NYC DEP specifically on the CSO issue.  Many SWIM members are also members of MWA.  We’re glad Waterwire is covering the issue, but we’d like to make sure MWA’s audience gets a balanced picture of the situation, beyond the way DEP frames it in their press releases.

We find much to like in DEP’s current Green Infrastructure initiatives to address CSOs, but there’s substantial ongoing discussion with state regulators, and concern among many NGOs, as to whether DEP’s specific plans will be as effective as currently projected, without further improvement.  (For example, the Waterwire article states as fact that DEP’s plan will cut CSOs by 40% over 20 years – but DEP acknowledges that it is conducting further review using more refined modeling techniques and, as always, DEP’s technical analyses remain subject to review by NYS DEC (and the public) under the Clean Water Act.)

Also, while DEP’s press release credits the “Floatables Advisory Committee” with spurring the new signage, it actually followed years of SWIM and many of its member groups pushing DEP on this issue – starting with a CSO Citizens Advisory Committee [link requires password “watershed”] that was actually chaired by MWA!  (Carter Craft, at the time.)

As the members of MWA most concerned with the CSO issue, we’d like to have the opportunity to update you and MWA on the status of things, so Waterwire and MWA generally can continue to give credit where due to DEP for making progress, without inadvertently giving readers an impression that DEP’s already doing everything it can.

I’ll give you a call to follow-up next week.

Kate Zidar
S.W.I.M. Coalition

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