The Village of New Paltz’s application for a $1.2 million grant to fix the local drinking water system was not among those chosen from this year’s pool of proposed projects.
On Nov. 19, Mayor Tim Rogers posted on his Facebook page to inform citizens that New Paltz was not selected to receive the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation grant through the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, which awarded 38 projects in the Mid-Hudson Valley with $49 million in grants.
Rogers also shared a video that was originally posted a couple months ago, which includes the expressions of town officials, business owners, elementary to college level students and other residents. The primary concern circulated among these voices is their distaste of “brown water” and the necessity of clean water for survival and other daily operations, such as laundry and food preparation.
Over 200 applicants applied to receive a grant for assistance with drinking water, according to Public Information Officer for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Lori Severino, but only 65 of eligible projects were selected for funding.
In Ulster County, grants were awarded to the Town of Esopus ($2.2 million towards their water storage tank replacement, with an estimated project cost of $3.7 million), the City of Kingston ($2 million towards their sewer plant project, with an estimated project cost of $7.9 million) and the Village of Rhineback ($2.2 million towards their water distribution system improvements, with an estimated project cost of $3.7 million).
Two project locations were considered for water main repairs in this process. The larger water treatment plant on Mountain Rest Road, which consists of two water mains: the primary one runs straight down Mountain Rest Road and the other one runs through the woods, which is in a desperate need for replacement after operating for over 100 years, according to Rogers. The second water main location of consideration is located on Huguenot Street.
Rogers has described the current state of the water main system as “very troubling,” as it is prone to water main breaks and is most likely leaking water. There are also concerns of cross-contamination between a stream and treated water. This has cost the village a fair amount of money, according to Rogers, and other infrastructure projects are also of concern.
A grant writer was hired to complete this complicated and meticulous application process as well as an engineer to design the proposed plan, which cost close to $5,000 in total, according to Rogers.
“New York State EFC and the Department of Health consider a number of factors when evaluating applications,” Severino said in a prepared statement. “This includes water quality improvement or reduction in risk to public health, financial needs of the community, readiness to advance construction and the level of demonstrated community support.”
The Village of New Paltz used their application for this grant from 2017 to re-apply for this year. However instead of applying for six different projects and $5 million total, they only applied for two projects in order to make their application more competitive. They will not need to re-submit their application in order to be considered during next year’s process, according to Severino, which Rogers said the village plans on doing.
“The reality is we might be forced to raise water rates,” Rogers said. “Every single day we look at the quality of our water and make sure it continues to be safe. The best thing we can do is just look at things one day at a time and continue to hold together the system that we have, and continue with plans to fix it.”