The Village of Saugerties is considering an increase in the amount it charges the town for water, with a surcharge of $21,000 on the base price and a change in the way water use is calculated when determining when the 650,000 gallons-per-day maximum the town is allowed to use before a ten percent surcharge is imposed. The amount of water the town uses is now calculated on an annual basis; the proposed change would calculate usage weekly, making excess usage stand out.
At the Village Board meeting of August 15, Town Planning Board member Mike Tiano said the excess water use occurs only during the HITS [Horses in the Sun] show season and is the result of the horse show’s operating methods.
In preparation for events, “the stalls are washed with a full-bore hose, no nozzle on,” Tiano said. “No nozzle on the hose and full throttle on the hoses. Horses are also washed and while they are soaped, the hoses are left on the ground still pouring out water,” Tiano said. Then the horses are rinsed. “This happens multiple times a day. There doesn’t seem to be any conservation there at all.”
Tiano acknowledged that HITS has brought money and visitors to the community and that HITS has been an asset to Saugerties. “The problem is the water,” he said.
From July 2021 to July, 2022, they used 2,931,000 gallons of water. For a business that operates intermittently, with meets only six times a year, this seems like a lot of water, Tiano said. The campsite across the street, during the same period, used 2,338.000 gallons.
Tiano suggests that Family of Woodstock, which owns the facility, dig wells or tap the Sawyerkill Pond for water.
In the case of another prospective user of village water, the Winston Farm project, Tiano is proposing that the plans be downsized to ensure that the development does not exceed the water supply, which is coming close to its maximum capacity of 12-million gallons.
“People, we have to wake up; water is a precious resource and we have to find another source before we run out,” Tiano said. “I am concerned. Where did 2,931000 gallons of water from one place go? Ultimately into the Sawyerkill, then into the Hudson River without any filtration. I feel that this should also be addressed with Family of Woodstock, or whoever is responsible,” he said.
Mayor Bill Murphy said the new rates are not in force; they still need to be negotiated with the town. “What brought the question up is that there has not been great communication between the village and the town Planning Board,” he said.
Village trustee Terry Parisian said Family of Woodstock owns a portion of the HITS property and Tom Struzzieri, the owner of HITS, owns the recreational vehicle parking lot across the street; there are two separate entities.
Parisian also noted that the town is not supposed to sell water to industrial users, those who are using more than a certain number of gallons a day, and “if HITS falls into that, they should be paying the premium.” The issue is complicated by the intermittent large uses of water, and possibly HITS should be paying the premium for part of the year.
Trustee Jeannine Mayer suggested that it might be a good idea to see what arrangements other large businesses have with the village to not have just one example.
“The town needs to meter HITS usage and come up with some kind of agreement,” Murphy said. He pointed out that the village charges the Town of Saugerties the same rate it charges its residents. The town adds its own feed, he said.
Tiano noted that there is a large pond near Kiwanis Ice Rink and the town has wells that tap into that water supply. HITS could do the same, he suggested.
Over the 13 years Tiano has been on the Planning Board, the board informs the Village Water Department of the estimated demand the project would use, but he was recently informed that the department had not received the estimates. He asked that village officials tell him how to ensure that the estimates would get to the people who needed to know what new demands on the water supply are in the works.
Following the meeting, Tiano explained that he only realized the relationship between the water usage and HITS after he listed the timing of the town’s excessive water use and found that it coincided with HITS events.