Westchester and Putnam Towns Lag Behind MS4 Mandates

The town supervisors and county representatives who make up the board of the east of hudson Corporation met last week to make progress on their stormwater management plans.
The town supervisors and county representatives who make up the board of the East of Hudson Corporation met last week to make progress on their stormwater management plans.

With no money coming in to cover the costs of required projects, the third year of the five-year stormwater management plan for the East of Hudson communities has been a difficult one.

“We are waiting on money from the DEP [New York City Department of Environmental Protection], as well as from both Putnam and Westchester counties,” said Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy, who serves as the chairwoman of the East of Hudson Corporation. She said that she thinks it will be another two months before there is a check in the mail from any of the parties.

In the meanwhile the communities in northern Westchester, western Putnam and southern Dutchess that exist within the East of Hudson Watershed, which makes up 10 percent of New York City’s drinking water are coming up short on their heightened MS4 (municipal separate stormwater sewer system) requirements.

The communities in the towns of Bedford, Cortlandt, Lewisboro, New Castle, North Castle North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers, Yorktown and the Village of Mount Kisco along with Putnam County and five of the towns in its borders, Carmel, Kent, Patterson, Putnam Valley, Southeast as well as the Village of Brewster and three municipalities in Dutchess are mandated to complete retrofit projects that are designed to reduce the amount of phosphorus that enters the water supply.

“We are behind on the Year 3 retrofit projects,” said Richard Williams, town planner of Patterson, in reference to the projects needed in Putnam. Murphy replied that Westchester was in the same predicament.

“We need to get these projects designed so they can be built during this construction season,” Williams said. “There certainly is a time element in this. If we do not act soon we will be out of compliance.”

If the communities in the corporation are found out of compliance the state Department of Conservation can fine them.

Some communities, such as the Town of Kent have already laid out money toward a project and are reluctant to move forward without seeing some of the promised money coming to the corporation.

The DEP is supposed to give the corporation $15.5 million as per a settlement agreement. Putnam and Westchester have promised funding from each of their respective East of Hudson funds. Combined the two counties are expected to contribute over $20 million.

The anticipated cost of completing all of the mandated projects is $500 million, with a bulk of the expense to be incurred in years six through 10 of the management plan. The corporation is looking for grants and other revenue sources to help with the funding.

While the corporation waits for the money to start coming in the executive committee will be working on the requirements of either a request for proposal or a request for qualifications to send out to find an engineer who can design the needed retrofit projects.

One item the board was able to do at its meeting last week was vote to have Rahul Verma be appointed as the corporation’s executive director.

Verma, who lives in Hopewell Junction, is a project engineer who owns Verma Engineering, which has offices in East Fishkill and Syracuse. Verma has been providing engineering consulting services over 10 years in the New England, New York, and Mid-Atlantic regions.

His start still needs to be determined, said Murphy, because currently the corporation does not have the money to pay him.

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