DEP Shell Game Continues
By Robert Press
BRONX, NEW YORK, March 28- The old shell game at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) continues with the ongoing building of a water filtration plant that was outdated years ago, and five time the original estimate when the plant was proposed.
The original cost of the Croton Water Filtration Plant to be built in the Jerome Park Reservoir was placed at $600 million, and with cost overruns Mayor Giuliani at the time predicted that the water filtration plant would cost the city close to $800 million. $100 million was spent by DEP to put a dividing wall in the Jerome Park Reservoir even though the site did not have final approval for the plant to be built. Members of the Jerome Park Reservoir Citizens Advisory Committee said the proposed plant was too big as it was to filter much more raw Croton water than had ever flowed through the now 100 year old Croton Aqueduct, and that a different more modern lower costing filtering system should be used.
The meetings went on and DEP along with their consultants insisting that all three fresh water systems to New York City would have to be filtered as was the federal mandate on the Croton Water supply. Numbers kept changing, costs went up, and the more the JPRCAC fought the filtration plant in the reservoir the clearer it was that this was the wrong place and design, among other things. The JPRCAC finally had the project defeated, but DEP kept up their argument that this water system had to be filtered and built in the Bronx.
With a new mayor now in 2001, and federal mandates that were not met the city was being fined from the federal government for not building the water filtration plant. Mayor Bloomberg came up with an idea to place a pot of money over $200 million (it was listed as 240 million) for Bronx parks if the Bronx elected officials in the State Senate and Assembly would approve a plan to build the Croton Water Filtration Plant in a section of Van Cortlandt Park.
Local Assemblyman Jeffery Dinowitz wanted no part of a water filtration plant in his district, but the lure of millions and millions of dollars to other parts of the Bronx was too much. Every Bronx state elected official but Assemblyman Dinowitz voted for the water filtration plant to be built in Van Cortlandt Park, and then lined up to slice the Bloomberg money pie.
Fast forward to the present, at the last Croton Facility Monitoring Committee Meeting nothing has changed as costs keep going up to the tune of over $3 billion now, and work projections keep getting pushed back. In comparing only the December 6, 2012 and the DEP March 2013 reports to the CFMC one can see examples of this. Scheduled projected completion dates for several items from the December 6, 2012 report have been pushed back on the March 21, 2013 report. The anticipated start-up and testing of the plant is listed as April 3,2013 on the December 6, 2012 report. That date has been pushed to June 7, 2013 on the March 21, 2013 report. DEP will also be closing Gulden Avenue completely again this year for several months, when they said last year would be the one and only time Goulden Avenue would have to be closed.
Apparently the DEP consultant Metcalf & Eddy/ Hazen and Sawyer have hit the lottery as their original contract cost of over $44 million has increased to a little under $300 million now. The Croton Water system only has supplied no more than 10 percent of the water supply to the city, and that was in times of a drought. The Croton water system has not been used in the past few years and with global warming and rising water levels it is unclear if the Croton Water system will ever be needed. By the way if you want to know just who is paying for all of this, just look at your water bill.
Mayoral candidate and current Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio came to the Bronx last week to the corner of Walton Avenue and East 183rd Street to speak about how small businesses in the outer boroughs face more inspections, violations, and fines from the Departments of Health & Consumer Affairs. You can go to my blog at 100percentbronx.blogspot.com to see photos of Public Advocate DeBlasio as he points out the figures on different charts that were made up, or go to http://advocate.nyc.gov/borough-bias to view the complete report.
If you have any comments about this column or would like to have an event listed or covered in this column or on my blog you can e-mail us at 100percentbronxnews@gmail .com or call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press. Have a joyous and happy holiday.