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Wawarsing, New York, Tragedy of the Commons
Economists define an externality as " A cost or benefit that affects
neither the buyer or seller, but instead affects people not involved in the
In the case of Wawarsing, NY, the residents are affected by both negative consumption externalities and negative production externalities. An aqueduct that supplies drinking water to NYC runs through the town and is leaking. Those who bear the costs of the leaking aqueduct are suffering from a negative consumption externality and negative production externality simultaneously. It is both the production of NYC drinking water (seller) and consumption of NYC drinking water (buyer) that is negatively impacting residents of Wawarsing. The aqueduct leak reduces the well being of those within a certain radius of the leak. What makes the Aqueduct leak so interesting is that externalities are usually considered to be the result of a "market failure"*. Since NYC is the producer and administers the transaction, the aqueduct leak is a government failure.
Unfortunately, the externalities do not end with the aqueduct leak. Many wells in the area affected by the leak have elevated levels of Arsenic, Barium, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium, Uranium, and Nitrogen. Again residents in the aqueduct leak zone are being affected by transactions they did not take part in. Arsenic, Barium, Beryllium, Cadmium, and Chromium are inorganic chemicals, classified as RCRA metals. These are used in industrial production, and the presence of these heavy metals in elevated quantities are the basis of a secondary negative production externality facing residents in the aqueduct leak area.
Nitrogen or Nitrate is also classified as an inorganic chemical that is found in elevated quantities due to runoff from fertilizer use, but also due to leaching from septic tanks and sewers. E-coli is classified as a microorganism that indicates human and animal fecal waste, which makes sense if leaching septic tanks and sewers are in the area. Of course, these are leaching improperly due to the excess water from the leaking tunnel. Finally , Uranium is classified as a radionuclide or radioactive/nuclear material. It is not a stretch at all to conclude that the aqueduct leak zone is NBC contaminated (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical).
How the Hell does NBC contamination occur in such a small area, of such a small town without an NBC attack? Where are all of these nuclear, biological, and chemical contaminants originating from? Why has every single level of government from the Town, to the County, to NYC City, to New York State, to the U.S. Federal Government failed to even notify the residents living in this affected area about any thing other than E-coli?
In an attempt to answer these questions Newton Economics has established an EXTERNALITY TASK FORCE. The market failures* and government failures which are the root of externalities are an economic phenomenon. Many of the basic economic principles associated with externalities are sound and applicable to the externalities presently occurring to my north and occurred years ago to my south.
In the Marines I attended a NBC Defense Monitor/Survey training program which I thought would come in handy running around fighting on urbanized terrain in a NBC environment at night, either in North Korea or Iraq during the late 1990's. I would have never guessed it would be useful 14 years after my active duty was over, to identify NBC contamination 1 mile to my north and 3 miles to my south.
Research and analysis into the source of this contamination is ongoing. Some established facts are these. The Town Landfill was capped in 1996 and is in the immediate vicinity of the aqueduct leak. In an area ranging from 3-4 miles south of the aqueduct leak there are 3 Superfund sites that were the source of negative production externalities and negative consumption externalities before they became Superfund sites. These 3 sites are the Napanoch Paper Mill, Ellenville Scrap Iron and Metal, and the Channel Master site.
This 4 mile stretch between the aqueduct leak, capped
landfill, and the 3 Superfund sites is a super concentrated example of what economists refer to
as the Tragedy of the Commons. It is a
shocking example, because negative consumption and negative production externalities exist from both market failures* and government failures. Each layer of government fails to think of this mess as an economic problem because they do not understand the concept of an externality. Each layer of government fails to cross reference the results of USGS well testing with EPA , New York State, or Ulster County drinking water regulations because they are interested in protecting and looking out for themselves instead of protecting and looking out for the people.
I reside in this 4 mile stretch of market failures*, government failures, and overall economic malpractice which truly is a Tragedy of the Commons. Luckily, I am unaffected by the aqueduct leak, and as of now there is no evidence to suggest NBC contamination on my property or in my well. The elevation of my property and its proximity to the Ver Nooy Kill may act as a firewall from the insanity my neighbors to the north endure.
I've begun compiling facts on each site in this 4 mile
zone. This page will surely evolve as more evidence and data is
compiled. If you have any evidence, data, and documents, feel free to
share them. firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to visit and like https://www.facebook.com/pages/NYC-Drinking-Water/230210993834340?ref=br_tf for breaking news and updates!!!
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