If New York City were to fall out of compliance with its filtration avoidance agreement as a result of chemicals in the runoff from drilling or other development now being contemplated in the Catskills/Delaware watershed, it could be forced to spend $6-10 billion for a water filtration plant, according to a report from the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO).

The city has already committed to spend more than $630 million through 2017 to protect the Catskills/Delaware watershed, from which it draws more than 90% of its water supply. If those efforts are successful, there will be no need to build a large filtration facility. But if the watershed were to become contaminated, the city would be obligated to build a filtration plant that IBO said would increase water rates 171% over the 10-year construction period, compared to a projected 148% increase over the same period if the plant were not built, the report said. Costs to build a filtration plant would increase an average residential customer’s annual water bill by $367, according to IBO.

The report does not address the likelihood of contamination being caused by drilling or other development.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) at the end of September released proposed rules for companies that want to drill in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale (see Daily GPI, Oct. 2). The DEC’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) addresses the range of potential impacts of shale gas development using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydrofracing and outlines safety and mitigation measures that operators would have to follow to obtain permits. The SGEIS, available on the DEC website, expands on a Generic Environmental Impact Statement, adopted in 1992. The comment period on the proposal ends Dec. 31.

New York state Sen. James Seward, a Republican, recently introduced legislation that would allow the DEC to require holders of gas well drilling permits to post a bond with the state comptroller as insurance that money would be available to defray the cost of repairing damaged water supplies.

Last week the New York Independent Oil and Gas Association said it was seeking petition signatures from pro-gas drilling New Yorkers and asking them to write elected officials in support of the “tremendous economic development opportunity” offered by natural gas exploration and production in the state (see Daily GPI, Dec. 17).

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