Schenectady-Niskayuna Aquifer System
Schenectady-Niskayuna Aquifer System
Federal Register Notice
Volume 50, No. 9, Page 2022
- I. Background
- II. Basis for the Determination
- III. Description of the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System of the Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Counties area, their Recharge and their Streamflow Source Zone
- IV. Information Utilized in Determination
- V. Project Review
- VI. Summary and Discussion of Public Comments
- VII. Economic and Regulatory Impact
Environmental Protection Agency
Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System, under-lying portions of Albany, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties, New York, is the sole or principal source of drinking water for Ballston (Lake), Burnt Hills, Charlton, Glenville, Niskayuna, Rexford, Rotterdam, Schenectady and Scotia and that this aquifer, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health. As a result of this action, all Federal financially assisted projects constructed in the Schenectady/Niskayuna Area and its stream flow source zone (upstream portions of the Mohawk River drainage basin) will be subject to EPA review to ensure that these projects are designed and constructed such that they do not create a significant hazard to public health.
This determination shall be promulgated for purposes of judicial review at 1:00 p.m. January 28, 1985. This determination shall become effective on February 27, 1985.
ADDRESSES: The data on which these findings are based are available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Drinking/Ground Water Protection Branch, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Damian J. Duda, Drinking/Ground Water Protection Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II at 212-264-1800.
Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C., 300f, 300h-3(e), Pub. L. 93-523) states:
(e) If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health, he shall publish a notice of the determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of any such notice, no commitment for Federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may beentered into for any project which the Administrator determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.
On August 20, 1982, EPA received a petition from Mr. Frank J. Duci, ex-Mayor for the City of Schenectady, which petitioned EPA to designate the Schenectady or Great Flats Aquifer as a sole source aquifer. On January 26, 1983, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register which served to reprint the petition, to announce a public comment period, and to set a public hearing date. A public hearing was conducted on March 3, 1983 and the public was permitted to submit comments and information on the petition until April 4, 1983.
Among the factors to be considered by the Ad-ministrator in connection with the designation of an area under Section 1424(e) are: (1) Whether the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System is the area's sole or principal source of drinking water and (2) whether contamination of the aquifer would create a significant hazard to public health. On the basis of technical information available to this Agency, the Administrator has made the following findings, which are the basis for the determination noted above:
1. The Schenectady/ Niskayuna Aquifer System currently serves as the "sole source" of drinking water for approximately 147,000 persons in the service area.
2. There is no existing alternative drinking water source or combination of sources which provides fifty percent or more of the drinking water to the designated area, nor is there any available cost effective future source capable of supplying the drinking water demands for the Mohawk River communities.
3. The Schenectady/ Niskayuna Aquifer System consists of a complex series of discontinuous coarse sand and gravel deposits, is underlain by glacial till. An extensive sand unit separates the coarse gravel unit from the till in much of the well field area. As a result of its highly permeable soil characteristics, the aquifer is susceptible to contamination through its recharge zone from a number of sources, including, but not limited to, chemical spills, highway and urban area runoff, septic systems, leaking storage (above and underground) tanks, and landfill leachate. Since ground water contamination can be difficult or sometimes impossible to reverse and since the aforementioned communities rely on the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System for drinking water purposes, contamination of the aquifer would pose a significant public health hazard.
III. Description of the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System of the Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Counties area, their Recharge and their Streamflow Source Zone
The Schenectady/ Niskayuna Aquifer System is composed of permeable sand and gravel deposits overlying glacial till. The system occupies approximately 30 square miles of thelowermost part of the Mohawk River drainage basin in New York State. The area in which Federal financially assisted projects will be subjected to review is the portions of the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System in the Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Counties area, the recharge zone and the streamflow source zone.
For purposes of this designation, the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System is considered to include the entire municipalities of Ballston, Burnt Hills, Charlton, Glenville, Niskayuna, Rexford, Rotterdam, Schenectady and Scotia, New York. The recharge zone is considered to be several very permeable portions of the aquifer within Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Counties. The streamflow source zone is that portion of the Mohawk River drainage basin composing the upstream headwaters area for Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Counties area.
The information utilized in this determination includes the petition, written and verbal comments submitted by the public, and various technical publications. The above data are available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II, Drinking/Ground Water Protection Branch, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278.
EPA Region II is working with the Federal agencies which may in the future provide financial assistance to projects in the area of concern. Interagency procedures and Memoranda of Under-standing have been developed through which EPA will be notified of proposed commitments by Federal agencies for projects which could contaminate the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System, upon which the Ballston, Burnt Hills, Charlton, Glenville, Niskayuna, Rexford, Rotterdam, Schenectady and Scotia areas are dependent for their sole source water supply. EPA will evaluate such projects and, where necessary, conduct an in-depth review, including soliciting public comments where appropriate. Should the Administrator determine that a project may contaminate the aquifer through its recharge zone as to create a significant hazard to public health, no commitment for Federal financial assistance may be entered into. However, a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan and design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.
Although the project review process cannot be delegated, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will rely to the maximum extent possible on any existing or future State and local control mechanisms in protecting the ground water quality of the Schenectady/ Niskayuna Aquifer System, upon which the Ballston, Burnt Hills, Charlton, Glenville, Niskayuna, Rexford, Rotterdam, Schenectady and Scotia areas are dependent for their sole source water supply. Included in the review of any Federal financially assisted project will be the coordination with the State and local agencies. Their comments will be given full consideration and the Federal review process will attempt to complement and support State and local ground water protection mechanisms.
Most of the comments received from the public were in favor of the designation. However, three commenters ex-pressed some opposition.
One commenter felt that the existing regulations are more than sufficient to protect the aquifer area and that more regulations would have a devastating effect on the local construction industry.
Another commenter also felt that the aquifer is adequately protected and that additional regulations would ban construction in the area.
Another commenter felt that the petitioning of the aquifer for de-signation as sole source was only a ploy used to prevent the construction of a shopping mall in the area.
One commenter, although generally in favor of designation, felt that the aquifer area is already more than adequately protected, while other portions, such as recharge zones, need greater safeguard measures.
The area considered for designation was determined to meet the criteria of an area which depends upon an aquifer for its sole or principal drinking water source and which, if contaminated, would pose a serious threat to the health of residents of Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Counties.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 605(b), I hereby certify that the attached rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. For purposes of this Certification the "small entity" shall have the same meaning as given in Section 601 of the RFA. This action is only applicable to the Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga County areas.
The only affected entities will be those Area-based business, organizations or governmental jurisdictions that request Federal financial assistance for projects which have the potential for contaminating the aquifer so as to create a significant hazard to public health. EPA does not expect to be reviewing small isolated commitments of financial assistance on an individual basis, unless a cumulative impact on the aquifer is anticipated; accordingly, the number of affected small entities will be minimal.
For those small entities which are subject to review, the impact of today's action will not be significant. Most projects subject to this review will be preceded by a ground water impact assessment required pursuant to other Federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as amended at 42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq. Integration of those related review procedures with sole source aquifer review will allow EPA and other Federal agencies to avoid delay or duplication of effort in approving financial assistance, thus minimizing any adverse effect on those small entities which are affected. Finally, today's action does not prevent grants of Federalfinancial assistance which may be available to any affected small entity in order to pay for the redesign of the project to assure protection of the aquifer.
Under Executive Order 12291, EPA must judge whether a regulation is "major" and therefore, subject to the requirement of a Regulatory Impact Analysis. This regulation is not major because it will not have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy, will not cause any major increase in costs or prices and will not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States enterprises to compete in domestic or export markets. Today's action only affects the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System of the Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga County areas. It provides an additional review of ground water protection measures, incorporating, State and local measures whenever possible, for only those projects which request Federal financial assistance.
Dated: January 4, 1985.
William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator.
[FR Doc. 85967 Filed 1/11/85; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 656050M