Monday, June 07, 2010


In what seemed like forever, the NYS DEP has finally embraced the reality that the aqueducts that carry New York City's drinking water from the Delaware Valley are leaking. Not just leaking, but saturating the soil above the tunnels to the point that people above are being adversely affected.

The State Senator representing much of the new wetlands is John Bonacic. (pictured above at the annual Police Chiefs Dinner) He has announced that the NYC head of the reservoir system will meet with residents of the town of Wawarsing on June 24 but a location has not been designated yet.

During the last few decades, the residents living above the leaking aqueduct have dealt with increasing problems surrounding the saturated soil in their area. Initially affecting just a few homes many years ago, the number has increased dramatically and now causes a threat to their health as well as safety.

Bonacic, (not usually found on Kingston Progressive) has requested an audience with Cas Halloway, the Commissioner of NYC Waterways to make the trek upstate to meet with the residents. I know how cynical we all are about politician motives during an election year, but sometimes that's the only time we get anything done, right?

Bonacic was quoted: “For too many years, the DEP has delayed acknowledging their responsibility. Now they admit they have ignored it, but still have yet to admit their responsibility. We are talking about people’s lives here. Mayor Bloomberg, ought to come to Wawarsing, look these fa
milies in the eye, apologize for taking so long to admit the truth, and offer them just compensation. Anything else is just more of the same a delay tactic.”

Many of you remember that earlier this year, the State senate unanimously passed legislation
(S.6276) to authorize the use of $4 million in State funding to buyout Wawarsing homeowners. This money was intended for surface flood victims from way back in 2008. It's now available for the aqueduct seepage problem,

In an earlier report, Deputy Commissioner of NYC DEP said: "We forgot about Wawarsing. We should have been more connected. We should have done a better job." He went on to admit that the city began monitoring private wells in the trouble area when it became aware of aqueduct water reaching the surface in the 1990s. Since then, they have supplied residents with bottled water for drinking and UV/filtering systems to diminish the health hazards attributed to the fecal contaminated wells.

In one of his many releases on the subject, Bonacic said: “New York City, not the State taxpayers, should be on the hook here. Their years of denials however, left us no choice but to act. This new admission, that they should have done more a long time ago is a step in the right direction, but does nothing in the long term to help these families. We need action, not just words to right the grievous wrongs foisted upon the people of Wawarsing by the DEP."

County Legislator Terry Bernardo, and I joined a group of Wawarsing residents heading for Albany last month in an attempt to educate members of the Assembly of the dire need for action on this issue. Our own representative Kevin Cahill indicated that the measure to hold NYC accountable didn't have the support needed at the time we were visiting the Assembly offices. His attempt to walk this through the committee process at a slower pace rather than have it fail in an immediate vote, was what he offered our group.

Considering the greater part of the majority party in the Assembly is located in the New York City area, it will take some delicate conversation by Kevin to move this legislation toward a YES vote, but time will tell. It is of course, an election year.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Mike and Senator Bonacic. It is tough enough for many of the people in the Wawarsing area without this.

Senator Bonacic is also to be commended for addressing the not-for-profit [off the tax roles] v for profit issue [hurting both NY businesses and tax payers?] - which could use a boost whereever and whenever it can get it.


bd said...

Senator John Bonacic is a true representative of all the people in his Senatorial District !!!

He plays politics when it is campaign season but the rest of the time he DOES THE PEOPLE'S BUSINESS without regard for Party affiliation. We need many more reps like John Bonacic !!

Bonacic in 2010 !!!!