The Village of Saugerties provides water to parts of the town outside the village through a complex agreement that specifies how much water the town can use and criteria for users outside the village to hook into the system. As water usage comes closer to the maximum the current sources can supply, village trustees are considering ways to ensure that demand can be met.
One way would be a flat charge to the town of $21,800 for use of village water, which could be applied to capital improvements and maintenance of the existing water sources. The town would also be charged with a ten percent surcharge for usage that exceeds a 650,000 gallon-per-day limit, said Trustee Jeff Helmuth. The basic charge would cover capital expense and upkeep of the system, Helmuth said.
Another change would be weekly billing for water use, rather than the current annual average use, Helmuth said. This would cover the swings in water use that put the town over the daily limit several times a year, balanced by periods when the town uses less.
The change would require rebuilding of the meter that measures the town’s water use, Helmuth said, but “it would provide a better indication of the town’s water usage. We want to change it from annual to weekly, and if they exceed the usage of 650 [thousand gallons] a day, it would cost more.”
“It will encourage conservation,” said Trustee Terry Parisian.
In response to a question, Helmuth said, “we have seen it up to 750,000 gallons.”
Water Superintendent Mike Hopf said the town had exceeded the 650,000-gallon-per-day cap five or six times last summer. “We were reading weekly averages, but within that average it exceeded the 650.”
The agreement also covers procedures for adding new customers in the town, provisions for large users and the inclusion of residences that use more than 5,000 gallons per day – the contract now includes only industrial users.
The village has received two letters on the topic of water use. Town Planning Board member Mike Tiano sent a detailed analysis of new projects that are before the Planning Board or have been recently approved. The new construction in areas in the town outside of the village in Malden, Esopus Creek north of the village and the area south of Glasco, but in the water district, would add some 750,920 gallons of water, Tiano wrote in his letter. He included a list of 15 projects that are either before the Planning Board or already approved.
“I am aware that next year they are going to be dredging the Blue Mountain reservoir of silt that has accumulated on the reservoir floor,” Tiano wrote. “This will only bring it back to the existing depth of the way it was before silt and sediment was a problem.” And, while he admits he is not an expert on water supply, he is concerned that the village ensure there is enough water for existing residents and those who will be living in proposed new housing.
Catskill Mountainkeeper also weighed in, warning that the proposed housing and commercial development on Winston Farm would require more water than a well, proposed for the property, could provide. “The Beaverkill aquifer beneath Winston Farm cannot provide water for both the village and Winston Farm.”
Among the specific concerns that Riverkeeper expressed was the proposed Denier Car Wash, just north of Winston Farm and just above the aquifer. “We are concerned that the Town of Saugerties, instead of upholding its sensible, existing aquifer protection laws, is considering a zoning amendment to a car wash operation within the aquifer recharge area.”
Mountainkeeper also warned that construction could block the flow of the Beaverkill, jeopardizing the existing aquifer. On the other hand, Mountainkeeper praised the village for taking steps now to protect its water supply.