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News Release

September 20, 2011      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

Steinhaus Meets with NYC DEP to Review $2.1 Billion Hudson River Aqueduct Improvement Project
“One of the more significant projects in Dutchess County in decades”

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus met today with officials from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), including Deputy Commissioner Paul Rush, for a comprehensive briefing on the DEP’s planned Hudson River aqueduct improvement project, part of which will be done in Chelsea (Town of Wappinger). The New York City DEP will be undertaking the "Water for the Future" program (including the Delaware Aqueduct Rondout-West Branch Tunnel Repair Program to address known leaks in the Rondout-West Branch Tunnel (RWBT).)  This project is expected to be a $2.1 billion project, including $1 billion in direct tunnel construction costs, and is expected to take nearly a decade to complete.

“This is one of the more significant projects to occur in Dutchess County for many decades,” said County Executive Steinhaus.   “It is important we have a full understanding of this undertaking from the vast scope of the project including its cost and the length of time for completion to its economic impact on the local economy.”

The RWBT is an approximately 45 mile section of the Delaware Aqueduct that conveys approximately 50% of the drinking water for New York City and is the primary source of water for the residents and businesses of the Towns of Newburgh and Marlbourgh.  Leaks in the Wawarsing (Ulster County) and Roseton (Orange County) areas have been identified.    Leakage rates are estimated at 15 to 35 million gallons per day.

To address this problem with minimal disruption to customer water supply, the DEP plans to construct a new tunnel segment to bypass a leaking section of the existing tunnel; this new tunnel segment would be the bypass tunnel.  It will be constructed between a site to be located west of the Hudson River in the Town of Newburgh and a site east of the Hudson River on the DEP’s “Shaft 6” property located in Chelsea (Town of Wappinger).   The tunnel would be located approximately 600 feet below the Hudson River water surface, and approximately parallel to the north as the existing RWBT.

Deputy Commissioner of the NYC DEP Bureau of Water Supply  Paul Rush said, “This project is the highest priority for our agency.   It has involved years of planning and study.   We appreciate the opportunity to meet with officials, including Dutchess County Executive William Steinhaus, to discuss how this project will unfold and how we can work together with local and county officials to ensure it is successful for all stakeholders.”

The "Water for the Future" project is planned in 3 major phases:

Phase I - Shaft construction done on both the East and West sides of the Hudson River.   Plans call for work to be conducted simultaneously on either side from 2013 to 2015.

Phase IIConstruction of the bypass tunnel.  Work would take place from the West side of the Hudson, moving eastward toward the East connection in the Town of Wappinger.    Work time period is planned for 2014 to 2019.

Phase III - Connection of the bypass tunnel is anticipated to be a 6 to 16 month period from 2020 to 2021.

The NYC DEP issued the Final Scope of Work on the project last month and its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is scheduled for release in November 2011.   There are numerous impacts that must be addressed including traffic, noise assessments, and visual changes to the site during the construction period. The NYC DEP has been working closely with the Town of Wappinger to address many of the town’s concerns related to these issues.

The project is expected to have significant economic impact with hundreds of construction jobs being created.   During the two hour meeting with DEP officials, County Executive Steinhaus also discussed the positive multiplier effect of the project on the local economy.

Several Dutchess County senior staff members also participated in the meeting today including the Commissioners of Health, Planning and Development, and Public Works along with the County Attorney and the Executive Director of the Dutchess County Water and Wastewater Authority to get a more comprehensive understanding of the project and to discuss the wide range of issues relating to a project of this magnitude.     These departments will involved with a regulatory or review role for various aspects of the project.

“Although much of this project will be unseen by residents, occurring beneath the surface of the earth, it will have far reaching impacts and it is critical that everyone is at the table to understand the implications of this project and ensure it has a long term positive effect on our community,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.

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