SPB Awarded Stewardship of Aquifer
We couldn’t resist. . .
What can I say? My husband, Daniel W. Van Riper, and I were strolling through a fair in Scotia, New York, when we came upon an exhibit from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). They were handing out applications to adopt bodies of water in NYS. On a lark, we picked one up, as Dan thought Save the Pine Bush could apply to adopt the aquifer under the Pine Bush (I mean, who are we kidding? SPB was suing DEC and the Governor at that very moment!), never thinking DEC would take us. To our surprise, this is what happened. (Dan wrote the letter and put together the application-I just added the official SPB signature.)-Editor
November 11, 1991
Public Participation Section
Division of Water
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Enclosed is the Take Credit Report Form that is part of the I Care for Waters packet. We of Save the Pine Bush would very much like to be on record as adopting the aquifer under the sand dunes of Albany’s Pine Bush. For the past thirteen years we have fought vigorously to prevent the destruction of the remaining Pine Bush, which would in turn ruin the aquifer beneath it. Although the media has usually portrayed us as defenders of the Karner Blue Butterfly, we are concerned with all aspects of the Pine Bush ecosystem. We are acutely aware of the importance of the Pine Bush as a source of fresh water.
We have worked for the past four years to prevent the creation of a major non-point source of pollution to the aquifer. We began by filing a letter of objection to the expansion of the City of Albany Landfill in 1987, an action which forced the City to file a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). We asked to be parties to the EIS hearing in June 1989. There were some sixteen points to be considered, including concerns with water quality. Monetary restraints at the time forced us to contest only the point about the butterfly’s habitat.
As the enclosed clippings show, the hearing was a three-ring circus. The City of Albany’s lawyers and the DEC lawyers colluded openly in the hearing room. Our star witness, who happened to work for the DEC, was threatened with dismissal for testifying for us, and he withdrew his testimony. Despite these setbacks, Administrative Law Judge Francis Serbent ruled in our favor, denying the landfill permit.
A few days later, DEC Commissioner Thomas Jorling overruled Judge Serbent, granting the permit.
It seems ridiculous to plant a garbage dump in sand on top of an aquifer, but the reason is simple. About 25% of the garbage in the landfill that is already there was put there by the State. The DEC is forcing dumps to close all over the State, but will go to any length not to clean up its’ own act.
We filed suit in State Supreme Court over this illegal decision, and there the case stands to this day. Papers were served against Mario M. Cuomo, Thomas Jorling, Albany mayor Thomas Whalen and the Albany City Council. We are confident that we can continue to prevent this non-point source of pollution indefinitely. The City and the State apparently agree, since they have actively been looking for an alternative waste disposal plan these last few months. This is something they should have done in earnest more than five years ago.
Please note the enclosed clipping wherein Mr. Jorling publicly acknowledges the role Save the Pine Bush has played in Pine Bush preservation. Also note the article in which Governor Cuomo endorses Pine Bush preservation, which he has done often over the years.
Thank you for your consideration.
Department of Environmental Conservation Bestows Certificate of Recognition on
Save the Pine Bush
April 21, 1992
Dear. Ms. Jackson,
Thank you for submitting the report of your organization’s activities for recognition under our Take Credit program. We are pleased to send you the enclosed certificate to acknowledge your many years of participation in public decisions involving the Albany Pine Bush, with special interest in protecting water quality.
We also recognize that members of your organization do not always agree with the decisions made by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Remember that DEC’s mandate is a broad one, designed to consider the economic interests of the state, while protecting its natural resources. I hope we can "agree to disagree" on certain specific matters, while working together to a common goal, the protection and enhancement our waters.
New York’s state agencies, municipalities and industries are working to improve our water quality and responsibly manage our supplies. Our waters need more help and vigilance, the caring concern of informed, active citizens, such as you and the members of your organization. Thank you for your sustained efforts of good stewardship.
Allan C. Tedrow, Director
Bureau of Program and Regulatory Activities
NYS DEC Division of Water
SPB Awarded Stewardship of Aquifer
Allan Tedrow Dodges Barbs
by Daniel W. Van Riper, Jul./Aug. 92
"I’ve never heard of a landfill liner that failed and caused a water problem," said Allan Tedrow, director of Program and Regulatory Activities in ENCON’s Division of Water, speaking at the June 25th lasagna dinner at Westminster Church. When asked if he had faith in landfill liners, he was quick to point out, "I didn’t say I had faith in them, just that I have never heard of a problem."
Mr. Tedrow had come to explain the Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s Take Charge Program for New York’s waters. "ENCON’s bureaucracy can’t respond adequately to local problems," he told the group of about 40 that stayed after dinner to listen and ask questions. "We are trying to create partnerships with community groups on a grass roots level."
More than a year ago, SPB had sent the Division of Water a letter detailing how "we have worked…to prevent the creation of a major non-point source of pollution to the aquifer" underneath the Pine Bush by opposing the expansion of the so-called City of Albany Landfill.
We explained how our work to preserve the aquifer has included suing DEC Commissioner Thomas Jorling over his illegal approval of the permit for The Dump, and by raising public awareness.
This past April, SPB received a "Certificate of Recognition" from the Division of Water, which reads in part, "You have demonstrated that you care for our waters through activities to preserve and protect the water resources of NYS and to increase environmental awareness in your community." Legally, of course, this certificate means absolutely nothing. However, the gesture by ENCON, although ironic, is much appreciated.
Mr. Tedrow carefully avoided making compromising statements and did an excellent job of defending his department’s policies. He graciously accepted an invitation to speak at the dinner in a spirit of conciliation, clearly intending to forge a link with SPB.
Originally, the Division of Water dealt only with point source pollution, such as open sewer pipes. ENCON has the authority to deal with such easy to identify problems, and has had great success in doing so. Recently, the main problem has been non-point sources of pollution, such as run-off from landfills. This problem has been much harder to solve. Thus, the department’s solution has been to create partnerships with volunteer community groups to monitor and defend water systems, although Mr. Tedrow stopped short of recommending legal action by these groups. "It seems," he said, "that every time we propose a regulation we get sued."
He pointed out that ENCON chooses to place emphasis on water systems that are used as primary sources of drinking water. The aquifer under the Pine Bush was probably passed over for prime consideration because it is not considered a source of drinking water. How this disturbing determination was made, he did not explain.
The Division of Water also holds the annual water tasting contests; the current holder of the state title for best tasting water is the Village of Mexico in Oswego County. "When you go to Mexico you can drink the water," said Mr. Tedrow.