Water Conservation Concerns New Paltz Officials as Catskill Aqueduct is Repaired

The Village Board of Trustees declared a water conservation emergency from Aug. 15 to Dec. 15 due to repairs on the Catskill Aqueduct. 

The guidelines of the water conservation emergency require village community members to only use water for necessary household and business activities, such as “water for drinking, washing and bathroom facilities.” Other nonessential uses where water cannot be recirculated for another use are banned until the emergency is over. Banned activities include sprinkling lawns or shrubbery, washing porches and using water in air conditioning equipment. 

According to Village Code 207-15, if someone violates the conditions of the water conservation emergency, then their water may be shut off. However, Mayor Tim Rogers said that the declaration of the water conservation emergency is mostly a “heads up” to the community to save water and “to be careful.”

The Village of New Paltz buys approximately 60% of their water from the Catskill Aqueduct, which is run by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

According to Rogers, the DEP is repairing the aqueduct for two reasons. The first is to remove biofilm, a thin layer of microorganisms that form and coat surfaces, that has built up over “many decades.” The second is to repair cracks or leaks that may have formed in the aqueduct.  

However, the village not only declared the water conservation because of the DEP Catskill Aqueduct repairs, but also because the current 30-year-old filtration unit on Mountain Rest road is being replaced.  

In addition, some tenants in the village have been experiencing discolored water in their homes.

Alex Esposito, a fourth-year psychology major, said his housemate came home from work on Sunday, poured herself a glass of water and noticed the water was brown. The shower water in Esposito’s apartment was brown as well. 

When Esposito contacted his landlord, he was told that it was a result of construction projects and that there’s nothing that can be done about it.

Rogers said that the reason the water is discolored in some areas of the village is because of the installation of the new filtration system and because some of the pipes have iron that has built up and discolored the water.

 “Some [pipes] are approaching over 100 years old so we’ve also, over the last few years, been trying to get grant money to replace a lot of those old pipes,” Rogers said. “I think an important thing to mention regarding the discolored water is that it doesn’t provide a health threat, its primarily cosmetic and the way to deal with that brown water is to run your tap until it clears.”