By Rebecca Martin
Recently, we reached out to the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) to see if we could receive a copy of the most recent Water Supply Permit by the City of Kingston. They asked that we FOIL (NYS’s Freedom of Information Law) for their records, which we did.
According to the DEC Region 3 office, no records could be located in the Environmental Permits Office that was ‘pertinent to your (our) request’. It appears that the COK will need to apply for a new Water Supply Permit in February of 2015, though we don’t have all the information on this yet. Check back in.
What we do have, is a 1954 application that was filed with a hearing in Kingston on March 31st, 1954 and a decision on April 6th, 1954 for the ‘approval of the installation of a 12-inch supply main from the existing conduits in the Town of Ulster to a proposed connection with the internal water supply system of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in the Town of Ulster in which Town of Board of Water Commissioners have not heretofore legally supplied water in large quantities.”
That the DEC has nothing new on file, all that can be done at this moment is assume that the last application submitted was in 1954. Lets say for now that is the case.
WATER SUPPLY APPLICATION NO. 2510 “For approval of the installation of a 12-inch supply main from the existing conduits in the Town of Ulster to a proposed connection with the internal water supply system of the IBM Corportaion in the Town of Ulster in which Town of the Board of Water Commissioners have not heretofore legally supplied water in large quantities.”
What’s in the application? Here are some items that we’ve found to process and research. Check back periodically as we become more familiar with the documents to share more for your information.
1. The Water Department says it has full authority to make the decision to sell the public’s water to the proposed Niagara Bottling Company project independently from City Government.
QUESTION: However, the Mayor of Kingston is a voting member of the Water Commission and appoints each of its members. What role might Kingston’s Common Council have in influencing the Mayor’s vote on the Water Commission? How can we work to re-write the charter as it pertains to the Water Department for better checks and balances on water sales and infrastructure needs?
2. In “Findings of Fact” point #10 (page 3), it says that in 1954, the Safe Yield was at 8 million GPD. According to Kingston Water Department Superintendent, in 1961 it was estimated to be at 6.1 million GPD.
QUESTION: That would be a drop of 1,900,000 million GPD in the safe yield between 1954 and 1961. Today, Hansen admits to using the 6.1 million GPD as a basis for their decision making – but that data is now over 50 years old and is not taking into consideration any modeling for climate change, future growth and future Economic Development for the City of Kingston.
3. In “Findings of Fact” point #9 (page 2), it speaks to a May 27th, 1929 Decision (see above for a copy of the decision). It says: “For approval of its acquisition of an additional source of water supply, for increasing the storage in Cooper Lake, for constructing the Mink Hollow conduits and Cooper Lake conduit, for constructing Binnewater equalizing reservoir, and for reinforcing the distribution system.” It goes on to say “the project proposed under this application was never fully carried out and the Commission, in its resolution of November 14th 1947 in approving the works as then completed, rescinded such parts of its decision of May 27th, 1929 as referred to works proposed for future construction but not then completed.”
QUESTION: There appear to be some significant items here, though more research is necessary. TBA.
4. In “Findings of Fact” point #14 (page 3) it states that the maximum demands of the new plant of IBM were expected to be at 1 million GPD. Following this statement, in point #15 it states that the ‘officials of the City of Kingston should be made aware of the fact that by meeting the demands of the new plant the limit of the capacity of its water supply facilities will be closely approached.’
QUESTION: This is more of a thought process rather than a question. At 1 million GPD, the Water Power and Control Commission (today known as the DEC) in essence is a warning to Kingston City Officials that the amount given to IBM on a daily basis is placing them at the potential risk to push the limit of the Safe Yield.
5. In “Conditions” (page 4) “A” – it states that ‘under the decision and approval the City of Kingston is authorized to furnish a water supply to the new plant of IBM Corp. NO AUTHORITY, however, is given hereby to the city for the sales of water to any others from the supply main to be installed to such a new plant without further consent approval of the Commission.”
QUESTION: What this means to me, is that that 12-inch supply main that was created to bring water to IBM in the Town of Ulster cannot be used for any other corporation without the approval of the Commission (the DEC). How might that be applied in Niagara’s case?
6. In “Conditions” (page 4) #1 it states that “Under this decision and approval the city of Kingston is authorized to furnish a water supply to the new plant of IBM Corp. NO AUTHORITY however, is given hereby to the city for the sales of water to any others from the supply main to be installed to such a new plant without further consent approval of the Commission”
QUESTION: Once more, it appears that the City of Kingston hasn’t the authority to sell water to any other corporation through the existing 12-inch main except IBM without the consent of the Commission (DEC). How might that impact the sale to Niagara today? Was Kingston Water Board aware of this, taking it into consideration before offering it’s ‘will share’ letter?
7. In ‘Statutory Determiniations” (page 5) in the “Fifth” it says that said plans are ‘just and equitable to the other muncipalities and civil divisons of the State affected thereby and to the inhabitants thereof, particular consideration being given to their present and future necessities for sources of water supply.”
QUESTION: What Science does the Water Department have to determine that ‘particular consideration’ was given to Kingston’s ‘present and future necessities for sources of water supply’ in the supplying Niagara Bottling Company with 1 million GPD – 1.75 million GPD where they, unlike IBM will use the full amount to bottle and to sell?
HYPOTHETICAL: It occurs to me as a thought process: the 12-inch supply main installed for IBM can move 1 million GPD of water which Niagara wishes to utilize, probably in the first 4-5 years. In their proposal, an additional 12-inch supply main is mentioned for future expansion. Although they are only requesting an additional 750,000 GPD from that pipeline as I understand it, what’s to say that they wouldn’t push to get the additional 250,000 GPD that the main would have the capacity to bring. Are these numbers accurate?