Saturday, May 31, 2014

Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee Meeting 5 - 28

This is a recap of the CFMC meeting of May 28th where the DEP did show up and afterwards is this weeks Riverdale Report from the Bronx News.

   Father Richard Gorman the 2014 Chair of the CFMC had 9 items of business on the agenda with items 4, 5, and 6 being the meat and most important. Item # 4 was a presentation by the DEP on DEP's "Water For The Future." This was presented by Associate DEP Commissioner Matthew Mahoney. 
   Mr. Mahoney began with a history of how the New York City Water supply came about before and after World War II. The Catskill/Delaware system supplying most of the NYC water goes through the limestone and is steel reinforced in certain sections. However at the time of WW II steel became precious in the war effort. He then mentioned that the system has to be repaired very soon due to several leaks in the supply line. Mr. Mahoney said that a several mile by-pass is being built so that one major leak can be repaired in Ulster County. With other leaks that will also have to be fixed NYC could loose up to 50% of its water supply. To make up for this water shortfall The DEP is going to use ground wells in Brooklyn and Queens where they will use up to 30 million gallons a day filtering the water at various scattered sites in the two boroughs since that water had not meet federal drinking water standards many years ago.
   The DEP will also use the Croton Water System which has not been used for consumption for many years due to a federal mandate to filter that water, once the Van Cortlandt Park Water Filtration Plant is completed, soon he said. While this is all going on the Jerome Park Reservoir will go through some badly needed maintenance including repairing the east wall that DEP has said is crumbling. Questions of why the JPR maintenance was not done the past several years as it lay empty waiting for the construction of the VCPWFP were answered by Assistant DEP Commissioner Matthew Mahoney simply, "I Don't Know." Mr. Mahoney also said that this work must be done by 2022. 
    Item # 5 was on the scope work already done at JPR including the removal of over 150 trees on the earthen berm of the reservoir that DEP said was compromising the integrity of the berm and had the Parks Department remove. DEP is now reneging on its verbal promise to replace the trees, and says that the Parks Department is now responsible for some since the trees were on Parkland and not DEP land. I asked Mr. Mahoney if all the work on the berm was done, or might we see more trees cut down. His answer was that DEP will have to check the site to make sure, and he could not rule out any more trees being cut down. 
   Item # 6 was on the new entrance to VCP that DEP wants to construct at East 213th Street and Jerome Avenue for use by their vehicles, and the possible need for "Alienation of Parkland due to Closure of Access Road in VCP." DEP claimed that it is a shared roadway for the golf course that is being rebuilt, and also for the Parks Department so the DEP can close the current entrance at Bainbridge Avenue. The construction by DEP has already started on the new road, and there is a large healthy tree right in the middle of the entrance that will have to be removed by the DEP. The next CFMC meeting is scheduled for Tuesday June 20th 7 PM at the DEP office located on Jerome Avenue opposite the site of the Van Cortlandt Park Water Filtration Plant. 

Riverdale Report
By Robert Press

DEP Tries it Again at JPR

It seems like the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is up to its old trick in saying one thing and doing another. Some people like former Croton Water Filtration Monitoring Committee (CFMC) Chairman Bob Fanuzzi may believe the double talk DEP tells him as is evident by his tenure as CFMC chair for the past year 2013. It seems that the DEP did not want to answer the tough questions it was getting from many people such as myself, so the DEP told CFMC chair Bob Fanuzzi that it no longer needed monthly meetings since the Water Filtration Plant was almost complete, and went to quarterly meetings. Mr. Fanuzzi complained at first, but went along with the DEP. It seems that Mr. Fanuzzi's replacement and new chair of the CFMC in 2014 Father Richard Gorman has told the DEP that he will be having monthly meetings and has scheduled his second monthly meeting in a row for Tuesday March 27th. I will have a recap of the meeting in next weeks column.
The matter of the cutting down of over 150 trees by the reservoir came to be during CFMC chair Bob Fanuzzi's tenure. As a component of the water filtration plant the DEP said that the earthen berm of the Jerome Park Reservoir was being compromised by the tree roots in it, and the DEP said the tress had to be removed. I have to give Mr. Fanuzzi some credit for his admiral discourse in questioning the DEP on the matter of the tree replacement before they were cut down. CFMC chair Bob Fanuzzi however never got anything in writing, and the DEP and Parks Department are now squabbling as to just who has to replace the trees since it was a Parks Department contractor that cut the trees down for the DEP who now says it is a Parks Department problem. The cost estimate to replace the trees is $850,000.00 by the Parks Department, if the trees are to be replaced at all.
At the September 2013 CFMC meeting I asked about an evacuation plan for the plant in the event of an explosion or other emergency, this after there was a horrific explosion had occurred in another state a few weeks before. DEP said that there was no need for an evacuation plan since the plant was not using chlorine gas on the site, and that was fine with CFMC chair Bob Fanuzzi.
Then there is the matter that I brought out at the December 2013 CFMC meeting of the plant having no fire alarm. I also questioned the DEP on letters that I received from a former supervisor (Mr. Robert Solomon) of the water filtration plant construction from the company that was fined for not having the proper master electrician at the plant site during critical electrical work, this after Mr. Solomon the supervisor was let go. The claims included that unlicensed workers had replaced the licensed workers, faulty under code wiring was being installed, mold problems at the plant, no fire alarm at the plant, and that the plant would not be in operation until after 2015 if the plant could be operational at all. By the way Mr. Solomon called me after September meeting of the CFMC to inform me that CFMC chair Bob Fanuzzi was given this information in July of 2013, and he said that CFMC chair Bob Fanuzzi had done nothing.
The DEP came to the Community Board 8 Environmental and Sanitation meeting this past week on Wednesday May 21st to inform the board of construction at gate houses # 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 at the Jerome Park Reservoir since the reservoir is entirely in CB 8. This was the first E & S meeting in a year, and second in two years that former CFMC chair Bob Fanuzzi had attended. Mr. Shane Ojar when questioned by myself and another person said that the DEP was at the meeting to hear community concerns only about this project, and that our questions concerned the water filtration plant which should be addressed at the next CFMC meeting. I questioned the staging areas of the construction among other items of concern to the community around the reservoir that has suffered to much already from the DEP that wanted support for this project. Mr. Ojar could only say we don't know yet, much like the answers he gave CFMC chair Bob Fanuzzi when it came to cutting down the trees at the reservoir. As a long standing member of the E & S Committee of CB 8 going back to the original Croton Water Filtration Plant that was proposed for the Jerome Park Reservoir in the late 1990's I wanted to know all the facts about this construction project, and I wanted it in writing. DEP said that the gate houses had to be repaired as they were in very poor shape. I then said that the entire reservoir is in need of repairs, and it should then be shut down since it is in such bad shape and of no need to the water system of New York. DEP then agreed to send the hard copy of the presentation to the community board office. When DEP will send it I do not know, but I will look at it and I will not say yes to anything that will be regretted later.
Those poor perfectly good healthy trees on the reservoir berm that were cut down, shame on you former CFMC chair Bob Fanuzzi for letting them be cut down without anything in writing from the DEP. Didn't you know better?
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 or call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press.


  1. Why didn't the committee have a concern with the demolition of the Gatehouse? Even though they are in bad shape, they can be rehabed or replaced in kind so that they will appear as they were intended. The reservoir is a historical landmark of The Bronx even if the City doesn't agree and we should try and preserve it. The City seem capable to spend money on other historic structures of the aqueduct like Central Park Reservoir, Highbridge, and Highbridge Tower and these are no long used to provide water.

    1. That fact was indeed brought up.
      DEP is coming back in September.

  2. Just found out that the DEP will be presenting to the Public Design Commission on Monday (6/16/14) at 11am.