With the 2017 Catskill Aqueduct shutdown drawing close, town and village officials continue a ten year search for an alternative water source for the 10 weeks the aqueduct will be closed for repairs.
According to the 1929 contract between the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Village of New Paltz, the DEP is under no obligation to provide or pay for water for the village or town, said New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet.
“I believe the DEP will come up with a solution on how to get water to the Community. The question is how it will be delivered and at what cost,” Zimet said. “Basically for ten years this aqueduct shut down has been known to the village and unfortunately no concrete action has been taken until we literally have our backs against the wall.”
The village reservoir off of Mountain Rest Road will be unable to fully supply the 7,000 village customers and 300 town customers during three 10-week shutdowns in 2016, 2017 and 2018 while the city repairs the aqueduct, according to The Daily Freeman.
According to Zimet, the DEP provided the town with a study they had done — costing about $150,000 — that showed there was a potential water source located at Plains Road in the town.
“The town got involved at the very tail-end of this in trying to facilitate and ensure that there was a solution,” Zimet said. “The town got involved because we would have to create a water district for this water to be used with the village water system.”
In regards to 2017 aqueduct shut down, Zimet said currently there is a plan on the table requiring the town and the village to enter into an Inter-Municipal Agreement (IMA). The IMA serves as an agreement between the town and the village to work together toward a solution for the shutdown and supply water as listed in the IMA.
According to Zimet, when the IMA is up, the town and village will enter into an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the DEP. This will lay the ground work for how New Paltz plans to acquire an alternative water source during the shutdown.
“There are some steps that have to happen in place, for example one of the things that has to be done is there has to be a creation of a water district on Plains Road and the Plains Road people would have the opportunity to petition for a referendum,” Zimet said. “Depending on the vote would depend on whether or not we can use that water source.”
Some residents of Plains Road have expressed support for the plan, while others are completely opposed, opening the possibility that the plan be voted down. Should this be the case, alternate plans would require type of engineering plan that would be very dangerous for the DEP to implement, Zimet said. According to Zimet, if the water district plan is voted down, one option the DEP has discussed is bringing water trucks into the town — about 175 water trucks a day. The town and village would have to purchase the water which would be much more expensive than the water user pay now, Zimet said.
“It is not only the cost [to be worried about] if this water back up system doesn’t fly. There is going to be many shut downs, this being only one of many,” Zimet said. “If we don’t create a water back up supply, we are going to have to figure out how we are going to continually get water to the community during the future shutdowns.”