Don't let New York State give up on New York City waters

Beach at Dumbo Brooklyn

Riverkeeper, Save the Sound, NRDC and other partners sued the Environmental Protection Agency in 2017 to impose limits on sewage and stormwater pollution to make New York City’s waters safe for swimming. We are still in court.

To sidestep its responsibility, New York State last week claimed to have rolled back the regulations that would require the city to clean up “Class SD” and “Class I” waters, many of which receive billions of gallons of sewage and stormwater each year. These category SD and I waterbodies include a portion of the Hudson River at Manhattan, Harlem, Bronx and East Rivers, Newtown Creek, Gowanus Canal, and others.

While New York City couldn’t snap its fingers to shut off its yearly 21 billion-gallon discharges of stormwater and sewage, the rule would require the city to develop a long-term plan of various capture and treatment measures to come into compliance in the coming decades. If compliance were found impossible, the state could undertake a public process called a “Use Attainability Analysis” to prove each waterbody could never be safe for swimming. As it stands, not a single one of the city’s existing plans would comply with the Clean Water Act, even when completed.
We need your help to prevent the state from evading its obligation to strengthen water quality criteria to protect public health. The state is trying to avoid federal review of its action by wrongly claiming its action is a “clarification” of existing law rather than a rule change.

Please join us in asking the Environmental Protection Agency to weigh in and reject the regulatory rollback. The deregulation is unlawful without a Use Attainability Analysis to support removal of the primary recreation designated use. Don’t let New York State throw in the towel on our city’s waters.


Read the sample letter (below) and add your own thoughts on why this is important to you. Personalized messages have a greater impact!


  • Peter Lopez, EPA, Region 2


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