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Post date: September 9 1999

State Sues To Bring Westchester Joint Water Works Into Compliance With Clean Water Laws

Attorney General Spitzer and State Department of Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello announced today the filing of a lawsuit against the Westchester Joint Water Works to ensure that it constructs a filtration plant and penalizes it for not having done so already.
The Water Works provides potable water to approximately 46,000 customers in Westchester County. The suit filed today in Westchester Supreme Court seeks to enforce an agreement between the Department of Health and the Water Works in which it agreed to filter and disinfect drinking water drawn from Rye Lake.
"We must ensure that all New Yorkers continue to have the best quality drinking water possible, and we plan to use the full force of the law to bring the Water Works into compliance," said Spitzer.
State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello said, "Maintaining a safe drinking water supply is a public health priority of the first order. This lawsuit reflects our determination to ensure that all New Yorkers receive the quality drinking water they deserve."
Under both state and federal regulations, all drinking water drawn from surface water sources must be filtered unless the source meets very stringent "filtration avoidance" requirements. The Water Works was twice denied a waiver by the Department of Health because it could not satisfy the avoidance criteria for its Rye Lake intake.
After denying these requests, the Department of Health and the Water Works entered into a stipulation requiring construction of the filtration plant. When efforts to bring the Water Works into compliance failed, DOH referred the case to the Attorney General. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has also advised the Department of Health that the Water Works continued failure to build the plant violates both federal and state law.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Rachel Zaffrann of Spitzer's Environmental Protection Bureau.