NYC Literally Poisoning Upstate’s Wells


The story in today’s Times about the massive DEP investigation of a leaking city water tunnel upstate makes us feel better about our low-flush toilet: the helium-breathing deep-dive teams working 700 feet underground represents only the first step in fixing flaws that lose more than twenty million gallons of our water a day. It’ll be days before we leave the shower running while we check email again.

It also makes us sympathetic to the people of Wawarsing, New York, whose basements, yards and wells are getting flooded by our overflow. When local politicians finally got the aqueduct temporarily shut off in May, the Ellenville Journal reports, the wells immediately lost water level. That extra water had been no benefit to them: Tests revealed that the leaching had filled it with e.coli and other contaminants.

Dehydrated Wawarsingers are now offered free bottled water, but have to sign a release form before they can get it, absolving the town of legal responsibility.

Gotham wiseguys tend to sneer at our upstate neighbors, out of ancient snobbery and political conflicts. But today we’re feeling a little apologetic toward them, and we’ll try to remember that when Albany finally gets around to the new budget.