NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — A upstate county official upset about polluted waterways and flooded homes is calling out New York City and calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to step up.
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein wrote an open letter to Bloomberg on Monday, saying the city’s Department of Environmental Protection is acting like an “occupying nation” with regard to the operation of its watershed in the county.
1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon With More On The Dispute
“The people in my community recognize the importance of providing water to their neighbors in New York City — that’s not what this is about. This is about really a David vs. Goliath abuse,” Hein told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.
WEB EXTRA: Read Hein’s Letter To Bloomberg
According to Hein, the county’s water is being polluted and harming farmers, hurting beaches and killing fish in the process. Hein says those problems have come as a result of diversion of water from a city reservoir.
Hein also says that the DEP is forcing small, local communities to subsidize New York City water rates in an effort to lower their own property taxes.
“We believe that Mayor Bloomberg — if he sees first-hand what we’re talking about, the abuse that’s going on within this community, will fight to make things right,” Hein said.
Hein says the mayor’s appearance in the area would “send a strong message” that he cares about where the city’s water comes from and the people it impacts.
Meanwhile, DEP spokesman Farrell Sklerov says that the department has and will continue to work with Hein and Ulster County.
“It’s unfortunate that he would revert to this tactic to try and point fingers rather than realize we have a productive, working relationship if he only wants to sit down at the table and continue it,” Sklerov told Rincon.
The DEP contends that it acts as an “economic engine” with its investments and employment of about 1,000 upstate residents.
Hein, however, argues that the DEP is not fixing broken source pipes and has “tried to avoid the issue for years and years and years.”
“New York City DEP has a very aggressive spin machine, designed to be able to minimize the impact and to make sure that people don’t pay too much attention to just how negative impact it’s having on our community,” Hein said.
Sklerov says Hein may have discounted the intense amount of rain over the summer that causes “cloudiness in the reservoir.”
He added that DEP is one of the largest taxpayers in the region, while contributing $130 million every year in taxes and has invested more than $1.5 billion in the last two decades to protect the water supply and protect economic growth.
“It’s something that we’ve been having years worth of discussions with the community and trying to find that appropriate balance between protecting the city’s priorities, but also protecting local communities from flooding and other ecological issues,” Sklerov said.
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