Attorney General Cuomo Sues Westchester Company & Employee For Illegal Dumping Of Raw Sewage And Cesspool Waste Into Nyc Drinking Supply Tributary
WHITE PLAINS, NY (September 24, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a lawsuit against a Westchester County-based waste hauling company and one of its employees for illegally dumping septic tank and cesspool waste containing raw sewage, condoms, sanitary napkins, and other noxious and offensive wastes into a neighborhood stream in the Town of New Castle that is a tributary to a New York City drinking water supply.
The stream is a tributary to the New Croton Reservoir, the final collecting reservoir for New York City’s “East-of-Hudson” (Croton) water system, which supplies roughly 10 percent of the City’s daily drinking water. Cuomo’s lawsuit seeks significant penalties for the violations and an order requiring the company to pay for the cleanup of the stream.
“This individual disregarded the law and common sense when he dumped a tanker full of sewage into a tributary to New York City’s drinking water supply,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office is committed to fully and aggressively enforcing clean water laws. We will hold the individual and his employer responsible for abandoning their responsibility to properly dispose of this putrid waste.”
Cuomo’s suit charges that Timothy Price, a waste hauler for Chappaqua Septic, Inc., a business that provides septic tank and cesspool waste service in Westchester County, emptied the contents of a tanker trunk into an unnamed stream located in the area near 20 Woodland Road in New Castle in 2006. Subsequent testing confirmed that - in addition to offensive wastes - the dumping of raw sewage and cesspool waste polluted the stream with high levels of harmful bacteria associated with human waste.
The New Croton Reservoir is one of 12 reservoirs in New York City’s Croton system and serves as the final collecting reservoir through which all Croton system water flows. It also receives water from its own watershed. Water from the New Croton Reservoir travels via aqueduct into the Jerome Park Reservoir in the Bronx. In addition to supplying roughly 10 percent of the City’s daily drinking water under normal conditions, the Croton system supplies up to 30 percent of its drinking water in times of drought.
Cuomo’s lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Westchester County, seeks to require Price and Chappaqua Septic to pay substantial civil penalties for violation of state environmental laws, including more than $100,000 for violation of New York’s clean water laws. In addition, the defendants face penalties of up to $11,250 for violating Chappaqua Septic’s state-issued permit to transport and dispose of septic and cesspool wastes. Finally, the suit seeks a court order requiring the defendants to pay for the investigation and cleanup of the environmental damages caused by the illegal dumping.
Pete Grannis, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said, “Dumping raw sewage in New York’s waterways is not only illegal but also reprehensible. Our state's streams and reservoirs deserve better. DEC referred this matter to the Attorney General and appreciates the action taken today. It sends a clear message that the state will prosecute such cases to the fullest extent in order to prevent improper dumping and ensure a safe environment.”
Stephen Bauer, a resident of New Castle who brought private legal action related to the septic waste dumping, said, “I commend the New York Attorney General’s office and DEC for taking action to prosecute the polluters who were witnessed intentionally dumping septic sludge into the creek and pond on my property. Not only did they contaminate the pond which my family used to enjoy but the Croton Reservoir itself, a major source of drinking water for the citizens of New York City. This action shows that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Alexander Grannis take their mandate to enforce the water quality laws of the State of New York seriously. Without their dedication the perpetrators of this illegal act may have gone unpunished.”
John Kirkpatrick, board member of the New York League of Conservation Voters’ Westchester Chapter, said, “Safe drinking water is one of our most precious resources, and its protection must be paramount. The New York League of Conservation Voters applauds Attorney General Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation for today’s action and for their efforts to hold polluters accountable for upholding New York's environmental laws.”
Attorney General Cuomo’s lawsuit is part of his ongoing commitment to enforcing state and federal clean water laws. Earlier this month, Cuomo awarded $1.2 million in water pollution settlement funds for green infrastructure projects to benefit the Bronx River. Cuomo has brought clean water and wetlands enforcement cases against polluters across New York State. Cuomo has also led efforts to protect the Great Lake and other New York state waterways from the spread of harmful invasive species. Additionally, Cuomo successfully sued the Bush Administration EPA over its failure to issue sufficient controls on stormwater pollution required under the federal Clean Water Act.
A video clip shot by Mr. Bauer showing the waste in the stream can be downloaded at https://download.yousendit.com/Y1Rvb24wMVhveE94dnc9PQ.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Julia Robbins of the Environmental Protection Bureau under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Andrew Gershon and Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection Katherine Kennedy.