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Bronx Week: Croton Filtration Plant Continues To Be Controversial

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The Croton Water Filtration Plant is the first of its kind in the city, built to make sure our water stays clean. But since its inception, the project has been rife with criticism. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.

80 feet beneath a section of Van Cordlandt Park sits the nearly-completed Croton Water Filtration Plant.

"We've been here for 7 years but a year from now, we're going to be drawing water from this plant and drinking it in New York City," said Carter Strickland, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. "We're almost at the end of a very long construction project."

It's also a controversial one, one that Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz called "one of the worst boondoggles."

In 1993, the federal government ordered the city to build a filtration plant, fearing water from the Croton water shed, the oldest of the city's three water sources, was in danger of contamination. Jerome Park Reservoir was on the list of possible locations in the Bronx and residents were not happy.

Sites in Westchester country were also on the list, but eventually Mosholu Golf Course was selected, despite community cries over traffic, noise and the loss of green space.

"This was the site that made sense in terms of both cost and just keeping jobs and keeping the operations within city limits," Strickland said.

DEP officials said between 15 and 30 percent of Bronx workers have made up the workforce over the years. But some Bronx leaders said that's not enough.

Cost overruns have also plagued the project.

"The DEP told the public that this project could only cost $992 million," said former City Comptroller William Thompson in 2009.

The total price tag now stands at $3.2 billion, which the DEP said is the result of increased costs in labor and material.

"Water bills to city residents continue to go up and its largely due to the water filtration plant," Dinowitz said.

The roof of the water filtration plant is also the future site of a new driving range. It will replace the one lost and will be funded by the more than $200 million DEP committed to Bronx parks for building the plant in the borough. Comptroller Liu's office has issued an audit to "determine whether the Parks Department carried out the required improvements.”

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