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August 8, 2013

DEC Gives Two Weeks to Comment on First Water Withdrawal Application for 1.5 Billion GPD

The first application for a water withdrawal permit under New York's new water withdrawal laws and regulations for which notice has been published, the application of TransCanada for its the Ravenswood Generating Station in Queens, does not establish a comforting precedent for the handling of such applications by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Notice of the TransCanada application is given in DEC's August 7, 2013, Environmental Notice Bulletin. Comments are due on August 22, 2013.

The 2,400 MW Ravenswood facility, located on the East River in the Hudson River estuary, produces more than 20% of New York City's power with three large steam-generating units, a 250 megawatt combined-cycle generating unit and 17 gas turbine generators. The facility, which was built by Consolidated Edison in 1963, is presently owned and operated by TransCanada Corporation.

No hearings are scheduled on the application for a permit to withdraw approximately 1.5 billion gallons per day from the East River, and DEC has determined that the project is not subject to review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). This is because, according to the notice, "it is a Type II action." The entire comment period on the first application by one of the state's largest water users is only two weeks long and is located in the middle of August, when summer vacations are often taken.

The categorization of the project as a Type II action is difficult to fathom because projects that "would use ground or surface water in excess of 2,000,000 gallons per day," are explicitly defined as Type I actions in Section 617.4(6)(ii) of the SEQRA regulations.

Although this application can be expected to be the subject of considerable interest across the state, the application documents and DEC's draft permit are available for inspection only during normal business hours at the address of the DEC contact person in Albany. Members of the public who wish to comment on the application, but do not live in Albany, are likely to find, as I did, that it takes most of the two week comment period just to obtain a copy of the application and draft permit.


Because of the significance of this application, the full notice is reproduced below .


TC Ravenswood LLC
110 Turnpike Rd Ste 203
Westborough, MA 01581


Ravenswood Generating Station
38-54 Vernon Blvd
Queens, NY 11101

Application ID:


Permit(s) Applied for:

Article 15 Title 15 Water Withdrawal Non-public

Project is Located:

Queens, Queens County

Project Description:

The department has made a tentative determination to issue an initial water withdrawal permit to the above-referenced applicant authorizing a withdrawal of water in the amount of approximately 1.5 billion gallons per day from the East River, Water Index Number ER (0.3 - 10.1), Class I, for use as cooling water for power production. WWA # 11,660

Availability of Application Documents:

Filed application documents, and Department draft permits where applicable, are available for inspection during normal business hours at the address of the contact person. To ensure timely service at the time of inspection, it is recommended that an appointment be made with the contact person.

State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Determination:

Project is not subject to SEQR because it is a Type II action.

SEQR Lead Agency:

None Designated

State Historic Preservation Act (SHPA) Determination:

The proposed activity is not subject to review in accordance with SHPA. The permit type is exempt or the activity is being reviewed in accordance with federal historic preservation regulations.

Coastal Management:

This project is not located in a Coastal Management area and is not subject to the Waterfront Revitalization and Coastal Resources Act.

Opportunity for Public Comment:

Comments on this project must be submitted in writing to the Contact Person no later than Aug 22, 2013.


Andrea Sheeran
NYSDEC Headquarters
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233

Posted by Rachel Treichler at 08/08/13 10:30 PM



Copyright 2016, Rachel Treichler



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New York Water Law covers legal developments relating to water usage in New York and in jurisdictions that may be influential in New York. The author, Rachel Treichler, practices law in the Finger Lakes region.
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