Sustainable Putnam was concerned to learn of County Legislator Amy Sayegh’s proposed resolution urging Governor Hochul to veto Senator Pete Harckham’s water protection bill, overwhelmingly passed by both Houses of the NYS Legislature. We oppose this action for a number of reasons.
The resolution claims that the bill “will adversely affect habitat improvement and sediment and nutrient reduction…as well as adversely affect public and private infrastructure through flooding impacts.” If true, these impacts would be concerning and surprising. But the bill only adds previously neglected waterways from long standing NYS law already protecting our other waterways. We’re anxious to hear the Legislator’s evidence supporting these assertions at their Committee meeting on August 25 at Tilly Foster Farm.
Second, the resolution states that county “Soil & Water Conservation Districts have established extensive stream remediation and habitat improvement programs and are the point people for private and public stream work in our communities.” So we’re also interested to learn about these Putnam County programs, with which we are not familiar. Regardless, what conflict exists between county programs and NYS laws designed to protect our waterways? Shouldn’t they complement one another?
Third, Putnam County’s SWCD District Manager retired one year ago and to our knowledge has not been replaced. (She also served as Senior Environmental Planner to the Putnam County Department of Highways & Facilities, Liaison to the County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board, and Coordinator of the Putnam County Climate Smart Committee.) If you’re counting, that’s four hats for a single staff person. Now she’s gone. Claiming that the SWCD can alone handle protection of our Class C waterways strains credibility.
Finally, here in Putnam County most of us rely on private wells and septic systems for our drinking water and wastewater treatment. Whatever their designated class (AA, A, B, C, etc.) all of these waterways are connected and directly impact our drinking water, fishing, boating, and other recreational uses, not to mention our wildlife. Let’s do all we can to actively protect this most valuable resource.
We strongly urge the Legislature to vote against this Resolution. In addition, we suggest they urge our County Executive to increase relevant staffing to more diligently assist residents, farmers, and businesses in complying with the existing water protections, as well as this new law, once signed by Governor Hochul. Urgent action is needed today. Click here for more information and to learn how you can help.