Friday, December 17, 2004

Observer: Keep City's water safe

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Subj: Fw: Observer: Keep City's water safe
Date: 12/12/2004 10:49:26 AM Eastern Standard Time
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----- Original Message ----- From:
To: Carolyn Zolas
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2002 12:34 AM
Subject: Observer: Keep City's water safe

June 27, 20021:33 AM

Keep the City’s Water Safe

It’s hard to imagine a resource more critical to New York than water. Indeed, it wasn’t until the city had a safe, reliable source of drinking water that it could begin the expansion that led to New York becoming what it is today—one of the world’s great cities.

So it is disheartening to realize that the city’s Department of Environmental Protection has not been on the job in its mission to protect the water supply. For the last six years, the D.E.P. has failed to report complete results from its testing of city water for lead, a dangerous contaminant. It turns out, now that the full results have been compiled, that lead in city drinking water was slightly above allowable levels from 2000 to 2001.

While officials are at pains to point out that there is no danger to the public, and even environmental advocates don’t see any intentional or criminal misconduct, the revelation is disturbing. At a time when terrorists would be happy to poison our water supply, it is imperative that we have confidence in D.E.P.’s ability to spot potential contamination. When contamination is found, D.E.P. has to respond swiftly and be candid with the public.

State officials have stepped in, properly, and demanded that D.E.P. devise a plan to deal with lead leakage into the water supply. They also want D.E.P. to tell the public how much lead is in its drinking water.

These are important steps, but the larger issues remain. We live at a time when we can no longer take so many things for granted—including the safety of our water supply. The public must be reassured that D.E.P. is on a footing equal to that of the Fire Department, Police Department and other first responders.

D.E.P., like it or not, is on the front lines in the battle against terror at home. Its oversight of the city’s watershed, aqueducts and water tunnels means that it is responsible for some of the city’s most important infrastructure.

The public must be reassured that D.E.P. is doing its job, now more than ever.

This column ran on page 4 in the 12/13/2004 edition of The New York Observer.


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