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Post date: January 16 2002

Spitzer Announces Settlement With Botanical Garden That Ends Its Pollution Of Bronx River

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with the New York Botanical Garden that requires the Garden to stop polluting the Bronx River, as well as spend $365,000 on projects that will benefit the river and its surrounding community. One mile of the river flows through the Garden.

Following a tip, the Attorney General's Office began an investigation and found that the Garden was violating state and federal environmental laws by discharging as much as 5,000 gallons a day of pollutants, including pesticides, from its greenhouses into storm drains that flow directly into the river.

In response to the A.G.'s findings, the Garden stopped the illegal discharges and began collecting its wastewater in storage tanks for proper disposal.

"This settlement represents a significant step forward in efforts to clean up, reclaim and revitalize the river," said Spitzer. "I want to commend the Garden for its cooperation throughout our investigation, as well as agreeing to take the steps necessary to dispose of its wastewater properly."

In addition to addressing the discharges from its greenhouses, the Botanical Garden has agreed to implement three projects that will benefit the Bronx River and the surrounding community. It will:
  • Spend $365,000 to benefit the ecology or use and enjoyment of the river;
  • Create a canoe portage trail and canoe launch on its property. The portage is necessary for paddlers making the popular journey on the river from the northern Bronx to Hunts Point. The portage will include the creation of a new stone path, the placement of signs to direct the paddlers, and the removal of invasive plants;
  • Maintain and clean storm water catch basins at the facility that are connected to any pipes or culverts that discharge into the river. Catch basin maintenance programs are effective measures to prevent sediment and other pollutants from reaching water bodies.
This is the second case that the Attorney General's Office has settled as part of its Bronx River Enforcement Initiative. Last February, Spitzer reached an agreement with the Wildlife Conservation Society to reduce pollution discharges from the Bronx Zoo into the river, as well as develop a new park along the river and sponsor a long-term Bronx River cleanup program.

"Whether it's the Zoo, the Botanical Garden, or a private business, my office is committed to aggressively enforcing environmental laws and protecting the river from pollutants," said Spitzer.

"The Bronx River is one of our borough's greatest natural resources,"said Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carri?n, Jr. "I am pleased that the New York Botanical Garden has stepped up its efforts to protect it. I commend Attorney General Spitzer and the Garden for their cooperative approach on this important matter."

The Bronx River begins at Davis Brook in Valhalla and runs 24 miles downstream, flowing into the East River. As a result of development and pollution from numerous sources, the river is not fit for many uses, including swimming. The Attorney General's Office is one of over 60 members of the Bronx River Alliance, formerly known as the Bronx River Working Group, which was formed in 1997 to restore the river.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Philip Bein and Scientists Michael Surgan and Patricia Primi.