Sullivan County composting plan in the works and more

What's new in sustainability from October 21 to 27

Posted 10/20/21

MONTICELLO, NY — Hey, socially responsible owner of food. What do you do when you’ve got proto-compost moldering in the fridge?

If you’re one of the lucky 400 to be part of the …

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Sullivan County composting plan in the works and more

What's new in sustainability from October 21 to 27


Sullivan County composting plan in the works

MONTICELLO, NY — Hey, socially responsible owner of food. What do you do when you’ve got proto-compost moldering in the fridge?

If you’re one of the lucky 400 to be part of the county’s composting pilot project, it’s easy. It goes in the special bin and from there will ultimately be taken to Ulster County and turned into compost.

The first stage of the program was outlined at the Sullivan County Public Works Committee meeting on October 14.

In the project, which was spearheaded by legislature chairman Rob Doherty and the county’s department of public works, 400 bins will be given to participating homes. The food waste goes in the bin; the bin gets emptied outside into a five-gallon bucket. Once a week, the bucket is taken to a transfer station. The county collects it and consolidates the not-yet-compost, which is then taken to an Ulster County facility. Eventually, it will emerge as full-fledged compost.

That’s Phase One. In Phase Two, said deputy public works commissioner Mark Witkowski, the county will look for $1.6 million in grants to construct a facility of our own. And the county will also work on collecting commercial food waste. (Think how much food is used, and possibly wasted, in schools, hospitals, and restaurants.)

The point of Phase One is to learn, said Doherty. “There’ll be some growing pains involved. The overall mission is to reduce our waste by 30 percent.”

What’s eating the Catskills?

REGION — Invasive pests, according to environmental organization Catskill Mountainkeeper.

There’s been a steady drumbeat of news, mostly bad, from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, listing the various species that have made the region their home.

Last month, Mountainkeeper posted a recording of their webinar on Catskills invasives on their Facebook page. If you’re new to the area and want to learn, or if you’ve been here a long time and want to learn more, here’s the link:

Contaminants hopefully controlled

ALBANY, NY — New water quality guidelines will advance regulation of three contaminants.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released new water quality guidance values that focus on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and 1,4-dioxane.

There are three draft technical and operational guidance series documents, which are available for a 30-day public review and comment period. The DEC is accepting comments until Nov. 5.

The new guidance concentrates on supporting public health, according to a DEC press release. The plan is to prevent exposure to emerging contaminants and ensure New Yorkers have access to clean drinking water.   

The “DEC is bolstering the strict levels adopted by the Department of Health to protect our drinking water by issuing guidance values for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane for ground and surface waters,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “These guidance values will protect the health of our communities and the environment by helping to prevent these emerging contaminants from entering our drinking water supplies.”  

Set lower than the state’s maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-Dioxane, these ambient guidance values protect source waters and provide an extra margin of safety to complement the drinking water MCLs by ensuring they are not exceeded, which could result in costly treatment for the regulated community, the DEC release noted.

State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “New York State has adopted among the most protective drinking water quality standards and requirements for testing, notification and remediation for emerging contaminants found nationwide.”

In July 2020, New York formally adopted one of the nation’s lowest maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for drinking water for PFOA and PFOS at 10 parts per trillion, and the first national standard for 1,4-Dioxane at 1 part per billion. While the MCLs adopted by the DOH provide protection for finished drinking water, the proposed guidance values will provide complementary protection of ambient waters used as drinking water sources. They also provide protection for aquatic life, according to the statement.

Public comment on the draft guidance is welcome, according to the DEC. Written statements can be submitted to NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, 4th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-3500, attn: Michelle Tompkins or by email to Comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Nov. 5.  

The full text of the draft TOGS documents and additional information are available on the DEC website at Interested parties can also call 518/402-8233 or email

County work in Climate Week

ALBANY, NY — The climate may be changing, but counties are keeping up.

As part of the celebration of Climate Week, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) recently recognized the role of county governments in dealing with climate change. Counties have enacted local laws, adopted energy-saving initiatives, taken steps toward climate resiliency, and developed programs to support more resilient communities.

Nine counties are now recognized as bronze-certified Climate Smart communities, NYSAC reported in a news release. The list includes Sullivan, Broome, Dutchess, Erie, Madison, Orange, Schenectady, Warren and Westchester counties.

Ulster, Tompkins and Suffolk are silver-certified.

“Real and lasting change happens from the grassroots up, and that’s why it’s so important for counties to be leaders in the fight against climate change,” said Pat Ryan, Ulster County Executive and Chair of the NYSAC Climate Resiliency Committee.“By acting locally, we can build a sustained movement that leads the nation in transitioning to zero-emission vehicles, high-efficiency buildings and renewable energy sources that will not only protect our planet for future generations but also create new jobs right here in our communities.”

Climate change and green energy were major topics at the Association’s recent Fall Seminar conference. The conference featured a plenary presentation from NASA Oceanographer Bridget Seegers on understanding the environment by studying Earth from space. There were workshops on preparing for the vehicle electrification world, on transforming New York’s recycling program through product stewardship legislation, on smart approaches to renewable energy siting and an update on New York State’s Climate Act.

“All around us, we’re seeing the effects of a changing planet, and those effects have consequences for local governments,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario. “Whether we are responding to severe weather emergencies, administering recycling programs, improving energy efficiency in county buildings or electrifying county vehicle fleets, counties are on the front lines of the fight against climate change.”

compost, Sullivan County Public Works Committee, Rob Doherty, compost bins


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