Insightful Letter to the DEC from Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber

By Rebecca Martin

The attached letter was written by Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber who shares solid arguments as to why the DEC should be Lead Agency in SEQR for the proposed Niagara Water Bottling project.  In contrast for me,  it raises more concerns as to Kingston Corporation Council Andy Zweben’s recent letter also to the DEC. Where are his loyalties placed?

Luckily, Kingston’s Common Council are asking the same questions and will vote on a Memoralizing resolution in support of the COK being an ‘Involved Agency’ in SEQR on Tuesday, November 4th.

Also fortunate for the people is that Natural Law is on our side.  We haven’t yet even begun to apply the Public Trust  Doctrine that will certainly come into play in the future.

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October 28, 2014

Dear Martin Brand,

​Within the DEC’s recent decision to not take lead agency in the Niagara Bottling project (the Project) in the Town of Ulster, there is the following note:

#3. Water Service – It appears that the project site is located within the Town of Ulster Water District and will be provided with water purchased from the City of Kingston. Any determination of Significance should address the full build-out of the facility, specifically the source of the estimated 1.75 MGD of water that will be required from the City of Kingston. This is consistent with the SEQR requirement of reviewing the “whole action”. Therefore, DEC suggests that all known or reasonable anticipated phases of the proposed project be considered in the determination of significance. If later phases are uncertain as to design or timing, their likely environmental significance should still be examined as part of the whole action by considering the potential impacts of the total known build-out.

If the proposal causes the City of Kingston to require a change or amendment to any permit condition that is currently in force, including an increase [of the] amount of water to be withdrawn greater than what is currently permitted, in order to prevent over-allocation or use of a water source or to protect the environment and the health, safety and welfare of the public then the City of Kingston will be required to modify its existing Water Withdrawal Permit, pursuant to 6 NYCRR Part 601.

The Town of Woodstock is the watershed that provides water to the City of Kingston, and the sale of 1.75 MGD is of great concern to us. In an earlier communication I provided the DEC with copies of decisions made in 1929 and 1954 by the State authority (State of New York Conservation Department, Division of Water Power and Control) that formally regulated the relationship between the watershed community and the city of Kingston.

In the 1954 decision, CONDITIONS for the sale of up to 1 MGD to the town of Ulster for a planned International Business Machines Corporation began with:

A. Under this decision and approval the city of Kingston is authorized to furnish a water supply to the new plant of International Business Machines Corporation in the town of Ulster. No authority, however, is given hereby to the city for the sale of water to any others from the supply main to be installed to such plant without the further consent and approval of the Commission.

Also in the 1954 decision, under the heading STATUTORY DETERMINATIONS, there is;

Second. That the plans proposed are justified by public necessity.

My questions to the DEC are:

1.  ​It may be debated whether the Town of Woodstock has anything to lose in the proposed 1.75 MGD sale, but it is certain it has nothing to gain. That said, what entity can the Town rely on, without having to rely on its own financial resources, to ensure that all the potential impacts of the Project as described above, to wit; “Any determination of Significance should address the full build-out of the facility, specifically the source of the estimated 1.75 MGD of water that will be required from the City of Kingston.” Will it be the DEC, acting as successor to the State agency that preceded it? If so, please require amendment to the:
NOTICE TO INVOLVED AGENCIES DECLARATION OF INTENT TO BE LEAD AGENCY
NIAGARA WATER BOTTLING FACILITY 605 Boices Lane Town of Ulster, Ulster County, New York
September 22, 2014

that currently reads;

“New York State Department of Conservation Region 3
21 South Putt Corners Road New Paltz, NY 12561-1696

Sanitary/Stormwater and JPA” to include “Full build-out analysis of the facility, specifically the source of the estimated 1.75 MGD of water that will be required from the City of Kingston.” To not do this puts determinations regarding the future of the Woodstock watershed and the health, safety and welfare of its inhabitants entirely in the hands of entities that cannot be expected to be fully cognizant of the watershed’s interests. If the DEC will not be the entity safeguarding the interests of the Woodstock watershed, please advise on what entity will.

2.  Acting as the successor agency to the one that formed the previous decisions regarding the Woodstock watershed and the city of Kingston, will the DEC re-examine the 1954 Statutory Determination that “the plans proposed are justified by public necessity.”? The nature of what is now being planned, 120 jobs or so in exchange for 1.75 MGD, and what was realized in the 1950s, to wit, 4000-5000 jobs (plus the economic multipliers that benefited not the town of Ulster alone, but also many of the neighboring townships including Woodstock) in exchange for 1 MGD is entirely different, and demands a fresh look. If the Project is “justified by public necessity,” please explain how.

3.  Will the DEC lend its offices to the creation of a modern decision for the purpose of re-stating and re-codifying the decisions that are in place regarding the city of Kingston’s taking of water from the Woodstock watershed, and to remove the ambiguities that have been exposed by the recent emergence of the Project? For instance, that Woodstock should have to stand by as an “interested party” and not an “involved agency” seems rather antiquated in a time when a municipality, from where the water does not come, becomes lead agency on a project that will, if accomplished, divert 1.75 MGD from a municipality for whom the water was intended.

A timely response to these questions would be very much appreciated.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Wilber

Supervisor, Town of Woodstock

6 thoughts on “Insightful Letter to the DEC from Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber

  1. Woodstock has clear interests and rights here and so do the users of the wider reservoir system. The Niagara decision sets precedent in terms of public benefits and goods, and also in terms of the compliance with initial enabling legislation for the water authority. Kingston and New York City should both be stepping up to protect Cooper Lake.

  2. Kingston has an opportunity here to create an involved and interested citizenry… not only the success of this current citizen action but the preservation of the structure that is being created…

  3. Thank you Jeremy, (however belated my thanks) and Thank you for requesting Involved Agency Status for Woodstock. Heaven knows we have the least to gain and the most to lose… We should surely have a seat at the table.

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