Monday, July 11, 2011

7 years between swimmers in Central Park Reservoir

Here's a story from the New York Post about a man who decided to take a swim in the Central Park Reservoir over the weekend.

What's really shocking is that this was the first time in seven years that anyone has jumped into the reservoir. According to Gothamist, the last time anyone took an illegal dip in the reservoir was in 2004 (and they were Canadians!). Whether or not that was really the last time it happened, the fact that, in the most popular park in the world, jumping over a four-foot fence into a reservoir doesn't happen daily should be testament to opening up access to the Jerome Park Reservoir (JPR) in the Bronx.
CB12 Chairman Fr. Richard Gorman, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Gustavo Rivera during a press conference calling for access to the Jerome Park Reservoir.
Over the past few months, the Department of Environmental Protection has said they will not allow any access to the JPR until construction on the Croton Water Filtration Plant is completed, which is not for another few years. Even then, only pilot programs will begin, so it could be years before those pilot programs are completed as well. Elected officials and community leaders have been kicking and screaming for DEP to begin opening access to the JPR now, while there is no water in it and thus no security threat.

Jump below to find out why the city doesn't want to offer access.

The biggest difference between the two reservoirs is that the Central Park Reservoir does not supply the city with drinking water, and JRP does. The water will go from the reservoir to the filtration plant and then into the city's homes. DEP said they don't want to give public access because they're afraid of someone poisoning the water. While they have never come right out and said it, their basic message has been, "We don't think we can stop a terrorist attack." With only 15 parks enforcement officers to patrol every Bronx park, the city realistically has no chance.

But since the water has to go through a filtration system before it gets to the city, shouldn't that take care of any contamination? Here's what their spokesperson had to say:
The plant is designed for conventional water treatment. This means it will treat the water for physical and chemical parameters, organic compounds, and bacteria like E-coli which can cause serious illness. Filtration plants cannot filter everything out of water, specifically other types of contamination that could be of concern for security purposes. Plus, the time it takes water to go from the reservoir to the filtration plant is a matter of minutes, making early detection of new contamination much more difficult. For our upstate reservoirs, the distance from the city allows us to make operational adjustments to isolate an issue along these lines and the upstart reservoirs are much larger in terms of storage capacity so any contamination is diluted
To sum up what DEP is saying: The filtration plant, which has cost billions of dollars, is incapable of stopping a terrorist attack, and therefore access must be denied to 1.4 million Bronxites.

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