DEP concerned about New Paltz water supply

As readers of this newspaper surely know, New Paltz has worked hard in recent years to search for additional sources of drinking water. Using money provided by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), New Paltz hired its own engineers to explore potential water sources along the Wallkill Valley, drill test wells and draw up plans for a new water district.

This work has become more urgent in recent years. Today, New Paltz gets the majority of its drinking water from New York City’s Catskill Aqueduct. The century-old aqueduct, however, will be shut down for ten weeks annually in the years 2018-2020. These shutdowns will allow dozens of workers to enter the 92-mile-long aqueduct for maintenance and repair work. Because its reservoirs on Mountain Rest Road only store enough water to sustain New Paltz for a few weeks, the town and village have needed to find an ample backup supply of drinking water before the aqueduct project begins.

New York City wrote a letter to warn New Paltz of the impending shutdowns as far back as 1993. Our efforts to alert New Paltz have been especially active since 2005. To date, New York City has provided New Paltz with roughly $2.5 million for the exploration and development of water resources for its community. None has been built.

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The most promising source of water was found several years ago off Plains Road. The proposed groundwater system and new water district there would have provided a substantial portion of water necessary for New Paltz to withstand the aqueduct shutdowns that begin next year and those planned for future decades.

However, this important work has been hampered by a small group of local residents who sued in court to stop the water supply project on Plains Road.

This month, DEP and elected officials from New Paltz agreed to suspend plans to develop a groundwater well on Plains Road. From New York City’s perspective, we can no longer wait for New Paltz to develop a full and independent backup supply. Deadlines are approaching, and our complex repair to the nation’s largest water supply cannot be held up.

Instead of committing an additional $9 million toward a robust backup supply for New Paltz, DEP will move forward with less funding for a smaller patchwork of projects. These may include repairing the village’s reservoir system on Mountain Rest Road, connecting some existing wells off Route 32 and improving water meters in New Paltz.

Make no mistake — these projects will not comprise a full backup supply for New Paltz. The town and village still only have enough of their own water to supply local residents and businesses for a few weeks.

In addition, this unfortunate outcome will require DEP to make complex and costly modifications to its Catskill Aqueduct repair project to ensure New Paltz has water. DEP will need to lessen the length of its shutdowns, move workers and equipment more often and it will require the City to install a long temporary pipe along the aqueduct to pump water northward from an underground siphon all the way back to New Paltz. These are extraordinary measures.

Expert analyses show the proposed water system on Plains Road was a viable option to provide the majority of water New Paltz needs for an independent backup supply. We believe the system also would have helped homeowners along Plains Road. For decades, many of these folks have maintained significant water treatment systems in their homes because, tests show, water in their private wells has been tainted by bacteria. The expansion of New Paltz’s water system into this area of town could have relieved homeowners of this burden.

Because New Paltz is one of our wholesale water customers, DEP remains concerned about the community’s inability to withstand shutdowns for planned maintenance or unforeseen emergencies in which we lose access to the Catskill Aqueduct. There are 74 communities and entities that purchase all or some of their drinking water from New York City’s supply system. Today, New Paltz is the only one without a viable backup supply or an active project to construct one.

We have voiced this concern to New Paltz officials for many years. Recently, Mayor Tim Rogers, Supervisor Neil Bettez, State Senator John Bonacic and State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill have been integral in focusing energy and attention on the issue of drinking water in New Paltz. We appreciate all their efforts now and in the future.

Paul V. Rush, P.E., Deputy Commissioner
Bureau of Water Supply
New York City
Department of Environmental Protection

There are 6 comments

  1. Amsterdam

    Two words: Mohunk Lake up on The Presidential Palace Hill. if they can drink that water so should we. Put water in big filtration trucks for potability truck it to distribution centers shut down the acqueduct for as long as you need. If that doesn’t work you will end up at the River Styx.

  2. Duck

    We don’t care about a back-up water system or sewer system and surface water system. The capitalization rate for income producing properties hovers around 57%. we are in the Age of Ducatenkakken

  3. West Side

    What makes this place different from all other village municipalities in the state seems unknown to the City? The evidence of it is in the state grant article (almost anyways) and the clown element to the university police article and now you are millions of dollars short and a two-bit letter of plea? You are starting here with an orientation matter equivalent to ” the battery is downtown and the Bronx is uptown” this is not Greenwich Village. George Washington not withstanding

  4. sasha j.

    New Paltz NIMBY’s are the curse of this community. A radical group of fanatics who stand to harm the community at large. No new business. No new water supply. No new bus station. No new schools. No new services. No new jobs. No new tax revenue. New Paltz IS CLOSED FOR
    BUSINESS. And everyone knows it. Each time your taxes go up you can personally thank these
    lunatics. Every time you have to spend more time in your car, wasting more fuel, traveling further to go to other localities for business and services that should and COULD exist right here – all that time spent, pollution generated, traffic and travel time – thank those few folks. It is PC on steroids and this observation is coming from a liberal!!! Imagine that. We live in a community that prides itself on dragging its feet. Just about any other well-educated, well-run community would have completed this important project years ago, and stand ready to seamlessly provide water. The ruse someone posted to have water trucks roaring up and down Mohonk drawing water from the lake is absurdity on over-drive!!! Yeah, let’s have hundreds of trucks per day shuttling water up and down our (my, actually) twisting mountain road like a 3rd world country!!! Fools.

  5. King Neptune

    There are two swimming pools in town which can be used as reservoirs at least for the fire deparent tankers. That way nyc can test the village pool for leaks of water from nyc. The university we are told has a swimming pool which causes mumps so be forewarned.

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