New Paltz backup water search impacts Plains Road residents

Drinking water exploration has impacted residents of Plains Road. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Drinking water exploration has impacted residents of Plains Road. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Neighbors on Plains Road met with New Paltz village and town officials June 19 to discuss how drinking water exploration has impacted them.

For some people, initial well tests imbued sulfur taste into their water. For others, the search for a backup water supply dropped the water table inside their well. One resident, Michael Burke, had to be reimbursed $5,000 after losing his well’s pump after it burned out trying to move water that was temporarily no longer there.


Consultants for the two municipalities said they’re going to institute a strict monitoring regiment before testing resumes on July 14. Citizens who lose water will be able to get their pumps lowered or get water trucked to them during any disruption.

Deputy Supervisor Jeff Logan, who lives on Plains Road, noted he’d received worried e-mails from his neighbors, saying they believed the search for backup water was meant to force everyone off wells onto municipal water.

“There is at no point anywhere — in any of this — are we looking to take away all the water from the residents of Plains Road and force them onto a water system,” Logan said.

Village and town officials have partnered with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to search for a backup water supply for when New York City shuts down the Catskill Aqueduct in 2016 and 2017.

Repairs during those two 10-week periods would potentially leave New Paltz without water, since the village system acquires nearly all its supply from the city.

According to David Clouser, the town engineer, the village reservoirs up on Mountain Rest Road only have seven days’ worth of water. So the race is on to find a suitable alternative before 2016.

Roughly 15 communities rely on the Catskill Aqueduct for water, according to the DEP.

Kim Kimble, a Plains Road neighbor, said she was thought that a baseline test of existing residential drinking water in the area should be done — so that the village and town can tell how they’d affect homeowners’ water quality.

That was a sentiment shared by other neighbors. They also worried about pollution from the Plains Road area’s past as orchard land.

Kimble said she was totally unaware of prior water testing until it was too late. She criticized local officials for not doing enough to publicize them. “I’m just suggesting, in the future when you do big tests, the neighborhood needs to know in advance,” she said.

According to village Trustee Tom Rocco, crews searching for water have been busy. Most testing sites have been along the Wallkill River basin. During phase one of the water exploration, New Paltz drilled approximately 120 test bores. The site at 101 Plains Road is one of the most promising in terms of flow. Clouser said that the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health have testing requirements that show what the sustained yield of the well is — what the well can be counted on to produce during sustained periods of drought conditions. “From our initial step-down testing that was done last month, it seemed to be in the 350 to 400 gallons-per-minute range for a sustained yield,” he said.

More formal meetings and a public hearing will follow once the two municipalities have settled on a water project. For now, they’re just looking into possibilities, Rocco added.

Residents of the Plains Road area who do experience water issues during the July 14 test should call David Clouser, the town engineer at 256-9600 or Russell Urban-Mead, the hydrogeologist on the project, at 486-1551. Trustee Rocco and Supervisor Susan Zimet are also contacts for concerned homeowners worried about water.