Water District 5 Project Faces More Lawsuits

Disgruntled residents filed another lawsuit against the New Paltz Water District 5 project. This new lawsuit will stall the project for an indefinite amount of time.

A number of New Paltz officials were named in a lawsuit with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to void the water withdrawal permit issued on Feb. 26, 2018. Plaintiffs Ingrid Beer, Donna Liebman and Gail Freedman, live on the Plains Road, the location of the water district site. 

Town officials investigated a number of locations, that would not disrupt pre-existing residential wells. The Water District 5 well will provide public water for New Paltz residents during scheduled maintenance periods for the Catskill Aqueduct and are set to happen in the fall of 2018.

Town Supervisor Neil Bettez acknowledged the substantial amount of time and money the town had spent to defend the case. To date the town spent over $75,000 in legal fees to defend the two previous lawsuits, and the two appeals that followed. He projects the third suit will significantly increase the taxpayer resources that are spent.

 The NYCDEP should reimburse these expenses, should the water district move forward, but they were unavailable to comment before by press time.   

“If we don’t get this to work, there will be no back up water,” Bettez said. “It’s like a 10 week backup battery for the water system.”

According to Bettez, the town would be able to draw water from their reservoirs for roughly a week before running out. That would mean SUNY New Paltz students would have to be sent home. In this case the town could choose to purchase water from the Delaware Aqueduct, which would be a costly and inconvenient endeavor. 

“There will be a 10 week long shutdown,” Rogers said. “Everyone [in New Paltz] would be put on a municipal water system. There are a majority of people who support this project.”

According to Rogers the water-quality would be tested regularly by the town and rates would be cheaper. Normally, the well would only pump 20 gallons per minute. In the case of a NYCDEP maintenance shutdown that rate would jump to 400 gallons per minute to ensure the town would not lose its water supply.         

“It’s not an optimal solution,” Rogers said. “You are spending millions of dollars for a temporary, not permanent, solution.”

Additionally, Bettez questions the plaintiffs’ ability to file their suit due to their lawyer, Marty Rosenbaum. 

He works for the New York State Assembly, and then in his spare time he is suing the state,” Bettez said. “I’m frustrated that I’m paying his state salary with taxes and additionally use town taxpayers dollars to fight the case.”

We were unable to contact any of the plaintiffs before press time.

Max Freebern
About Max Freebern 91 Articles
Max Freebern is a fourth-year journalism major who’s going into his fifth semester working for Oracle. He worked his way from a contributor, to copy editor and has served as the News editor for the past few semester. While he normally focuses on local government his true passion is writing immersive work and human profiles.