Water Supply: Running Dry

Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.


Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.
Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.

The Town and Village of New Paltz will have to find an alternate municipal source of water for a 10-week period when the Catskill Aqueduct is closed for maintenance repairs in 2016. Elected officials in New Paltz have been searching for a backup source of water since Mayor Jason West’s first term in 2004, but with the newfound discovery of the aqueduct’s closing, the search has become more urgent.

New York City officials announced the upcoming closing of the Catskill Aqueduct during a joint meeting between the Town and Village Board of New Paltz in August of 2013, and local politicians have since been maintaining contact with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials to find the most cost-effective and environmentally sound alternative water supplies.

We at The New Paltz Oracle believe a decision needs to be made regarding whether a water source in New Paltz is available to be tapped, sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the backup plan involving running a pipe down Route 208 into Gardiner connecting to their aqueduct should be implemented.

This option of incorporating a permanent water system for New Paltz residents would not only be convenient but a more cost-effective source of obtaining water, according to Town Supervisor Susan Zimet, because town residents wouldn’t have to pay a surcharge to buy water from the village anymore.

We also believe the DEP should speed up the process of making a decision on when they will be performing the maintenance on the Catskill Aqueduct because as of now, the time is unknown.  This is putting a further burden on the town and village to find the solution without knowing when exactly it needs to be done by.  It is unfair to those working on the project because they need to know when exactly this is going to take place to prepare for it.

A discussion about using water from the Walkill River as a temporary source has been had by New Paltz officials, an option that Town Councilman Daniel Torres believes is not safe for use as drinking water. We believe that if an elected official is resisting the use of this water source for safety reasons, it should not be discussed any further. If alternative methods are available — be them more costly or not, the health of the community should be considered as an absolute priority.

We believe that, as a natural resource, water supply — or the upcoming lack, thereof — should be taken seriously and acted upon with more urgency than it currently is. Torres said finding a solution to this problem is in the foreseeable future, as he believes it is unacceptable that people in the community be without water, and we agree.

While the situation seems fine now, we can’t stress enough how important it is that something be done sooner rather than later. The town and village should be postive we have the resources necessary for when the time ultimately comes for the aqueduct to be fixed.