The City of Kingston has received an infusion of state funding to make improvements to an aging water system — and avoid a repeat of a 2015 transmission main failure that left the city perilously close to going dry.
The funding comes from a state Environmental Facilities Grant and includes a $2 million grant and a $1.4 million low-interest loan. The money will pay for improvements to the underground infrastructure, some of which dates back to the 19th century, which carries water from Cooper Lake in Woodstock to a filtration plant and holding reservoir on Sawkill Road.
The gravity-powered transmission main between Cooper Lake and Kingston has suffered two catastrophic failures in recent years. In February 2015, the failure of an 18-inch transmission main between the filtration plant and the reservoir further down Sawkill Road caused a catastrophic loss of pressure. As crews scrambled to find a repair the break, which was concealed beneath an ice dam on Sawkill Creek, the city was forced to rely on a single adjacent transmission line that proved inadequate. Meanwhile, faulty valves prevented crews from shutting down the broken water main, resulting in further pressure loss. Even with emergency measures in place, including activation of the Town of Ulster water supply, Water Superintendent Judith Hansen estimated the city came with a day or two of taps running dry. Some $84,000 of the EFC grant will pay for new valves and improvements to the line linking the two parallel mains below the treatment plant.
In July 2015 the failure of an 1883-vintage 18 inch-main feeding into the filtration plant forced water officials to take the pipe out of service, leaving the plant reliant on a single 20-inch main. According to Hansen, the loss of the old main not only eliminated a backup source of water to the filtration plant, it also reduced efficiency. The department plans to use $900,000 of the EFC grant to return the main to service by relining it and installing new valve controls.
The biggest piece of the project calls for the installation of 1,600 feet of pipe and accompanying valves to provide redundancy of mains that feed the Binnewater reservoir. The reservoir is equipped with UV system to disinfect the water before it enters the city’s water system. Hansen said the new pipe would provide a critically needed backup that would allow other mains feeding the reservoir to be properly cleaned and maintained. The new mains would also allow the filtration plant to increase capacity and maintain flow in the event of another failure on one of the two main transmission lines from Cooper Lake. That aspect of it will cost $2.4 million.