Location: CWC Headquarters (Arkville, NY) and via ZOOM
Present: In attendance at CWC: Ric Coombe, David Kukle, Edward Snow, Greg Vurckio, Steve Walker, Winifred Zubin. Attending remotely: Bill Federice, Scott Grey
Others: In attendance at CWC: Jeff Baker, Jason Merwin, Tim Knox Bruce Dolph, Michelle Yost, Cher Woehl. Attending remotely: Nick Carbone, Thomas Hoyt
1. Call to Order: Ric Coombe called the meeting to order at 6:35 pm.
2. May 16, 2022, Meeting Minutes Approval: Motion to approve the minutes made by Ed Snow and seconded by Greg Vurkio. Motion carried.
a. FAD Deliverables: Jeff provided an update on the continuing discussions with DEP on the significant revisions to the Land Acquisition Program. He shared that there have been very productive meetings with Delaware and Greene Counties, including their Planning and Soil & Water organizations, where they have been identifying examples of the flood hazard and stream management projects that have successfully integrated with the Land Acquisition Program and that will work with FAD.
Jeff shared that there would be another meeting with DEP in the upcoming weeks. He anticipates in July there will be a meeting that will have much broader group in attendance. All in all, the discussions have been very promising and positive and feedback from the city has been very supportive. Jeff reminded everyone that CWT obtained approval to submit our FAD comments by July 1, 2022. He shared that the CWC comments to the FAD are very good, and for the most part CWT is in support of them.
Jeff communicated to the members his outline for the CWT comments, which will focus on two primary areas:
- CWT’s support of the revisions to the water supply permits to comply with the Land Acquisition Program (LAP) and,
- CWT’s support on the majority of the CWC comments, especially those related to the issues of contracting including the “after the fact” audits, the ongoing requests for documentation, and the delays in releasing payments.
Jeff also shared that he is proposing the need for a better mechanism for resolving contract issues, suggesting that DOH create a contract ombudsman in their office to assist with the contract issue resolution.
Jeff is recommending the only recommendation that CWT not support on the CWC comments to the FAD revisions is CWC’s request to have DEC be named as the primacy agency for the City’s drinking water. Jeff then provided an overview on the background surrounding who administers the Safe Water and Clean Water Acts for New York. DEC administers the Clean Water Act which regulates what gets deposited in the rivers and streams. DOH administers the Safe Water Act which regulates what comes out of our tap. He stated that while the recommendation from CWC to put this under one agency was reasonable, and would be more efficient, it would require significant legislative changes which would take time to occur. Tim (Knox) did clarify that CWC is recommending that primacy for the FAD be shared between DOH and DEC. Tim acknowledged that CWC recognizes this is more a ‘long-term’ solution due to the legislative changes needed to make this happen. Jason (Merwin) added that the CWC intent was to get this issue on the table to get the right parties thinking about it. Ric asked Jeff to frame the CWT comment on this in a way that is reflects our understanding of the benefits to this proposal and that we recognize it is a long-term solution. Ric also reiterated that we need to develop our relationships and communicate “our story” to the various Boards, the communities and the elected officials. The upcoming meetings with the DEP Commissioner are the first step to achieving this.
Jason shared that CWC has an upcoming meeting with the Commissioner and will be asking that they assign positions and staff to be housed in the vacant offices at the CWC building. By having staff onsite, it would result in better communications and more efficient and effective discussions on issues and potential solutions. Ric agreed, again stating that this is a partnership that must be built on trust. Working together as a partnership is the key to moving forward.
b. Streamside Acquisition: Ric addressed the comments and questions received by Steve (Walker) regarding the SAP. Specifically, Steve had concerns on:
- Town & County infrastructure maintenance and improvement as well as expansion,
- Non-compliance with local land use laws (subdivision, etc.)
- Back door land acquisitions by DEP
- Some definitions/parameters need to be clarified with respect to potential acquirable properties
While most of these concerns have been addressed Steve still had questions regarding how DEP can enter into contracts without adhering to the town subdivision regulations. Both Ric and Jeff indicated that while they haven’t seen a contract, they assume they get the town agreements before proceeding. Ric stated that these subdivision issues should be managed at the local level, thereby becoming each individual town’s decisions. If it’s okay with the town based on the contracts they have with DEP, then that may be a reason for the subdivision, clarifying that they would be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Jeff reiterated that this supports the overall goal to narrow the acquisitions to what is necessary and beneficial to provide for water quality while maximizing the amount of land that is being developed. Ric closed this discussion by acknowledging Steve’s concerns are all real issues that CWT needs to work on.
c. Flood Commission Reports: Nick (Carbone) reported that the tunnel closure will be delayed until next year.
d. CWC Report: Jason reported that CWC has been primarily working on the comments to the FAD revisions and shared that he has received positive feedback from several entities. He also reported that CWC will be providing a generalized letter to DEP regarding the evaluation of their contracts. In the past, each contract had a separate evaluation completed on how DEP administered the contract. This year, due to the FAD revisions and comments, CWC decided to provide a more generalized evaluation.
e. Below the Reservoirs: nothing to report
4. Jeff reported on the DEC proposed changes to the 360 Regulation that govern solid waste and solid waste management. What will impact CWT is the restrictions on the use of various types of fill in the watershed, including how you can use concrete aggregate, brick fill, etc. DEC is proposing severe restrictions in NYC watershed, making it like what they are doing in Nassau and Suffolk counties. It appears these changes are coming from the Watershed Inspector General, not NYC or DOH. Jeff will be working with Delaware County on the comments to these changes. He shared that the “basic rule” is that there must be a scientific basis to put in a restriction that will restrict more. If it is something that is warranted to maintain water quality for the city a compensation scheme needs to be worked out from the city as the general rule is we should not bare additional regulations that would not apply statewide solely for the benefit of the city receiving it’s FAD. Jeff shared there will be virtual public hearing on July 19th with comments due by July 25th. Nick raised the concern that this could have significant impact to composting in the watershed, with potential of closing sites. There will be several restrictions on sites adjacent to the stream corridors. Nick is scheduled to meet science consultants and will have more input on this soon.
5. Warrants and Treasurer’s Report: As Treasure Bud Gladstone was not in attendance at the meeting, Ric deputized Greg Vurckio as treasurer for this meeting. Greg reported that as of May 31, 2022, the checking account has $3,743.49 and the savings account has $131,997.93.
Dave Kukle made motion to accept the Treasurer’s report, seconded by Bill Federice.
Greg presented warrant #94 in the amount of $3,132.08 for payment of May legal fees.
Steve Walker made a motion to pay warrant #94, seconded by Ed Snow.
6. Bill raised a concern regarding DEP contracts and use of local contractors. Members discussed this concern and the overall bid process.
7. Adjourn: Motion to adjourn was made by Greg Vurckio, seconded by Winifred Zubin. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 7:30 pm.