By Rebecca Martin
Yesterday afternoon, the Kingston Water Board had their monthly meeting. Attached is the agenda. Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley was not in attendance, and the discussion as noted on the agenda did not occur (unless it was done in Executive session).
One item for the public to take note of here that was a surprise to us is the “Request for water at 160 Esopus Ave as per Easement”. The parcel is in the Town of Ulster with water rights from the City of Kingston.
(STARTS 7:05 – 19:47 on the Video below. Watch in its entirety).
“In 1884, the Kingston Water Company obtained easements for the “old” 20-inch transmission main from Binnewater to the City line. The easements provided to the owner of the 26 acre parcel in the vicinity of 160 Esopus Ave provides for the owner to have water for farm purposes (although the Kingston Water Department Superintendent Judith Hansen describes this in the video as “loosey goosey”) in perpetuity and at no cost to the owner.
The property owner would like to enter into a lease/purchase agreement with a commercial organic farm operation. The Kingston Water Department has met with the two or three principals of the farm operation and they have expressed an interest in re-activating the water rights associated with the easement.”
Superintendent Hansen has asked for their water use projections.
When a Water Board Commissioner asked “how much water are we talking about here?” Cloonan, the Water Board’s attorney responded “A lot.”
Free water for a 26 acre farm operation in today’s climate?
At this point in time in our area, everyone is aware of the need for revenue from water sales given Kingston’s infrastructure and operational requirements. The owner of the property is local. Might he reconsider the easement and renegotiate the terms with the Kingston Water Board? If not, what other options might there be? A new organic farming business is a great addition to the area, but to not pay for a drop of the water that it uses to then turn a profit from crops seems unfair at best.
Could the Water Department purchase the land in order to resolve the easement? By doing so, it would not only protect our water supply it could also sell the property and create water revenue that the Kingston Water Department needs. If possible, then at this early phase in information gathering, we support the Kingston Water Department to pursue this option (which is also discussed in the video).