Saugerties to seek backup water supply

Blue Mountain Reservoir (photo by Dion Ogust)

Blue Mountain Reservoir (photo by Dion Ogust)

The Blue Mountain Reservoir has been Saugerties’ only source of potable water since the 1880s, but state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations and recent tropical storms have village officials looking for another source of water for the Water Department’s 1,500 village hookups as well as residents of the town’s three water districts.

Michael Hopf, the village’s water superintendent, says he, along with the village’s engineers Brinnier and Larios, will be working with Layne Christensen, a national company specializing in finding sources of water, to find a second source of water for the water department’s customers.

This will not be the first study done to identify a water source. “There has always been an interest in finding a secondary source,” Hopf said. “But the question has always been who will pay for it.”


A study done in 1980 identified Winston Farm as a good location to drill a well, Hopf said. “But we were hoping that someone would develop the site and they would pay for that well,” he said.

With no development planned for the Winston Farm except as a location for music concerts, officials will begin their search anew.

“We already know there are no good locations around the reservoir [in Blue Mountain],” Hopf said. “So we will be looking closer to the village.”

Cost for a well, and the necessary building for a pumping station, and all the other infrastructure that would be needed would run into the millions, Hopf said. “So cost becomes a real concern.”

But so does shutting the Blue Mountain plant down because of mud in the water from storms or in case of other potential disasters such as a fuel oil spill.

The reservoir is actually a widened section of the Plattekill Creek. It’s fed by water flowing down the creek, runoff from the creek’s watershed and underground springs.

Over the years, the water treatment plant at the reservoir has had to be shut down on a number of occasions, Hopf said. Mostly for turbid water, which would clog the filters at the plant.

The longest operations have been shutdown was during the Irene and Lee storms, which happened within ten days of each other in August and September 2011, Hopf said.

Because of water turbidity, operations were shutdown for about 32 hours, Hopf said. A three-million-gallon tank, which stores up to three days of treated water, prevented the village from having to declare a water emergency, which would have required customers to boil their water before using.

It’s that type of storm that has village officials seeking out a second source of water, Hopf said.

“Also, what would we do if a fuel oil truck tipped over on a road along the upper portion of the Plattekill Creek,” Hopf said. “A large spill might force us to close the plant for a long period of time, during which we might have to bring in tanker trucks to provide water to residents.”