DEP still looking for source of Pepacton oil spill

Photo of a small tugboat and an oil spill surrounded by yellow booms on the Pepacton Reservoir. Taken on Tuesday, May 15 from Route 30, near the pump station for the East Delaware Tunnel. Photos by Lissa Harris.

The source of a small oil spill in New York City's Pepacton Reservoir, which was discovered on April 29, had still not been found over two weeks later.

From a photo taken of the spill yesterday, the affected area looks somewhat larger than the New York City Department of Environmental Protection's initial estimate of about 100 square feet.

DEP spokesman Chris Gilbride told the Watershed Post that divers were in the reservoir on Tuesday, May 15 searching for the source of the spill.

Gilbride said that no water was currently being drawn from the Pepacton into the city's drinking water.

"We're not currently drawing water from that reservoir, not because of the oil spill, just because of natural operations," he said.

The planned opening of the Pepacton to recreational boating on Memorial Day weekend will go on as scheduled, Gilbride said.

"We don't expect there to be any delay in the opening of recreational boating," he said.

Until the source is found, it is impossible to say for sure what caused the spill, and the DEP will not speculate. But during the Irene and Lee floods last summer, local creeks and streams carried away massive amounts of debris, and caused many small spills of home heating oil and diesel fuel. It's possible the spill is coming from flood debris that washed into the reservoir from upstream.

The area of the reservoir near the spill is currently closed to public access. At this time of year, the reservoir is normally open to fishing boats. Below: A new notice posted on a gate near the area of the spill.