By Rebecca Martin
“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” – Jacques Cousteau
Tonight, Kingston’s Public Safety/General Government Committee passed a resolution unanimously for a referendum that would include the Kingston Common Council for any water sales outside of Kingston’s City Limits.
Why is this important?
First, a referendum would allow the City of Kingston residents to vote on whether or not it should have a voice in water sales outside of our community. Cooper Lake, our reservoir that resides in the Town of Woodstock, is Kingston’s responsibility to manage for its residents and our neighboring communities.
As we learned with the Niagara Bottling proposal, the water department that was organized in 1895 designed to keep politics out of water couldn’t have imagined the politics that would emerge through the interpretation of their original intention. Or climate change. Or water bottling companies. Or fracking. Or any other large extractions of water that would bring great profits to some while potentially decimating the locals ability to grow and to prosper.
Today, we are living in a very different time with the opportunity to reform the way our natural resources are managed. We owe it not only to ourselves, but to municipalities who are also impacted by our decisions and counting on Kingston to be good stewards as we proceed into the future.
Second, throughout the Niagara Bottling proposal, we were told that the City of Kingston hadn’t a seat at the table in the SEQR process because of the Charter. The Town of Ulster, who was hoping to attract Niagara to their community, relied on Kingston’s water in order for them to do so. It took many months of hard work to make the SEQR process a public one and even then, the city of Kingston had no right to be an ‘Involved’ agency.
We will support our Common Council to correct that in November and are pleased to speak more on the subject here all summer long to help the public to make an informed decision.
While we are all at it – the Kingston Water Department needs to do an up-to-date safe yield using climate change modeling. Simply put, a safe or dependable yield projection is the amount that you can safely remove from a reservoir that can be naturally replenished within a certain amount of time. 6.1 million GPD (gallons per day) was what it was over 50 years ago. We are using close to 4.5 million GPD now. It’s a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and time to apply modern strategies to our knowing.
A big thanks to Common Council members Bill Carey, Deb Brown, Matt Dunn, Brad Will, Steve Schabot and Brian Seche for three months of discussion. Your support tonight as a result is greatly appreciated.
Thanks, too, the Kingston’s Corporation Council for their support in helping us find a way to move this referendum through to the next step.
What’s next? This evening’s vote will result in a public referendum in November provided that the full Common Council votes in favor of the amendment in June, and the Mayor signs the legislation.
Please stay tuned and involved. There is more work to do.
Water Follies by Robert Glennon (thanks Candace!)