Brennan Legislation Bans Gas Drilling In NYC Watershed and Other Critical Water Supply Areas

October 26, 2009
Assemblymember Jim Brennan (D-Brooklyn) has introduced a bill (A.8748) to prohibit gas drilling in the New York City watershed or anywhere within five miles of its boundary, in the Delaware River watershed or anywhere that is a recharge area of a sole source aquifer. Twenty-two members of the Assembly have joined Mr. Brennan in sponsoring this measure and Senator Tom Duane is carrying the bill in the Senate (S. 6244).

New York City residents depend on its water supply from the Catskill area for pure drinking water. If any contamination were to occur, it would cost the City of New York at least $10 billion to construct a water filtration plant as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in maintenance costs.

“Clean, potable water is of utmost concern,” Mr. Brennan said. “We cannot take a chance with the source of safe drinking water for over 9 million people who depend on it daily in New York City. We must be sure that the New York City watershed area, as well as the aquifers that our upstate residents depend upon, are protected from any possible contamination. My bill identifies the protections that must be taken to prevent the need for clean-up later.”

This bill is designed to protect the areas that are immediately adjacent to drinking water supplies by making them off limits to drilling. Furthermore, the bill requires disclosure of all chemicals used in the drilling process, and provides for specific procedures to be followed in the case of spills. Storage of fluids used for drilling and the waste created are regulated and the waste must be treated as a hazardous substance. The bill places the burden of any mistakes made by the drilling industry clearly on their shoulders to clean up and pay the consequences. The bill directs the DEC to include numerous protections in the permitting process and requires the permit fees to cover the costs of oversight by the department along with any remediation that may become necessary due to the companies' actions.