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NYC agrees to build cover over reservoir in consent decree

March 18, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City will build a cover over the reservoir that supplies its drinking water and pay a fine as part of a consent decree with the federal government, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

The Hillview Reservoir, in Yonkers, New York, north of the city, is a massive, open-air structure that gets almost a billion gallons of water via aqueducts daily, and is the last stop before water enters the three city water tunnels.

The issue of putting a cover on the 90-acre holding tank has been a point of dissention for years.

Federal regulations call for open-air reservoirs like Hillview to be covered to protect the water from viruses that can come from animals like birds or their waste.

But the city in previous years tried to get a waiver, or the deadline delayed, to no avail. Those who have spoken out against the need for the cover have said there are already other mechanisms in place to keep the water safe, like ultraviolet treatment.

On Monday, City Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Ted Timbers reiterated that stance.

“In the 1990s, EPA issued a national one-size-fits-all rule that requires a cover on even an extraordinarily well protected asset like Hillview Reservoir and now New York City residents will spend $1.6 billion to build a redundant cover,” he said in an emailed statement.

The cover project is estimated at $1.6 billion, and other connected projects raise the total estimate to almost $3 billion.

Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division said it was a necessary step to protect “against contaminants aerially deposited into the Hillview Reservoir, which millions of New Yorkers depend for their everyday drinking water needs.”

The entire project is scheduled to be completed and running by 2049.