Hein to NYC: Get offa my Facebook page

Mike Hein's Facebook page: Now a DEP-free zone.

The latest skirmish in Ulster County executive Mike Hein's ongoing war with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is being fought on the battlefield of social media.

Capital Tonight reports that Hein's official Facebook page has blocked the DEP's NYC Water from commenting, after the DEP left a link to a recent Times Herald-Record story on Hein's page. Capital Tonight reporter Nick Reisman got outraged yawps from both sides:

“It is pretty shocking that the day after the County Executive demanded transparency that he would censor information on his own public Facebook page,” said DEP spokesman Farrell Sklerov. “Since when is transparency a one way street?”

JJ Hanson, a spokesman for Hein, confirmed the post was removed. He fired back this statement:

“It is obvious the spin machine of the NYC DEP is hard at work trying to further muddy the waters rather than fixing the problem,” said J.J. Hanson, a spokesman for Hein.

The latest dustup follows right on the heels of a press conference Hein held earlier this week, blasting the DEP for not considering making releases of dirty Ashokan Reservoir water into the Hudson through the Catskill Aqueduct instead of into the Lower Esopus.

The DEP responded that using the aqueduct was not a viable option because many towns draw drinking water directly from the Catskill Aqueduct. An excerpt from their statement:

If we were to send highly turbid water into the Catskill Aqueduct before discharging it into the Hudson River, it would mean that dozens of towns and villages in Ulster, Orange, and Westchester would receive water that would either require extremely expensive treatment or be unusable for drinking water purposes. If so, what is the County Executive’s solution for the 180,000 residents who live in villages and towns like High Falls, New Paltz, New Windsor, Cornwall, Firthcliffe, the City of Newburgh, Cortlandt, Yorktown, Ossining and New Castle?

Both the Times Herald-Record and the Kingston Daily Freeman covered the press conference. But while the Freeman quotes just Hein and Sklerov, the Times Herald-Record digs a little further to get quotes from other affected parties:

Marbletown faces both chocolate-brown Esopus water and a need for Catskill Aqueduct drinking water in High Falls.

The town probably would not trade a clear creek for a dirtier aqueduct, said Supervisor Michael Warren. High Falls already has to triple-filter water to meet federal standards and was forced to clean its water tank five years earlier than expected.

Sending a clean and dirty water blend down the aqueduct could lessen turbidity in the Lower Esopus, said Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper watershed program director. "This is worthy of a very, very careful look," she said.

Update, 3/10: A fellow reporter informs us that the dust-up happened on Hein's "Office of the Ulster County Executive" page, not the "Mike Hein for Ulster County Executive" page as we originally wrote. Apologies for the error! We didn't see the DEP's original post before it was taken down -- we just followed the link from Capital Tonight.

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