Today at the Water Board meeting, a resolution was passed to approve the Town of Ulster as being ‘lead agency’ on the SEQR review for the Niagara Bottling Plant. We were told that the City of Kingston (i.e. the Common Council) had no authority to dictate whether our water was to be sold or not. That it was strictly up to the Water Commission. An appointed body by the Mayor of five people.
Alex Beauchamp is the Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Watch. Based in the Brooklyn office, Alex oversees all organizing efforts in New York and the Northeast. Alex has worked on issues related to fracking, factory farms, genetic engineering, and water privatization at Food & Water Watch since 2009. His background is in legislative campaigning, and community and electoral organizing. Before joining Food & Water Watch, Alex worked for Grassroots Campaigns, Inc., where he worked on several campaigns including organizing support for renewable energy in Colorado, fundraising, and running get-out-the-vote operations. Alex graduated from Carleton College with a degree in political science. He can be reached at abeauchamp(at)fwwatch(org).
“The applicant (Enterprise Properties LLC) is proposing the construction of a water bottling facility on a 57.50 acre parcel of land at the end of Boices Lane. In addition, the project will involve the extension of municipal water and sanitary sewer services to the project site as well as natural gas and electric utilities….” etc.
What is the current ‘safe or dependable yield’ number based on?
How many millions of GPD (gallons per day) does the City of Kingston and Town of Ulster consume? How many millions of GPD does Niagara wish to bottle and to sell? What is the total?
What contracts are currently in place between the COK’s Water Department and local municipalities? Add these promises up and include them to the number above.
What water promises have been made to development in the COK? What additional water needs may be necessary for future growth of economic development in the COK and TOU. Add that to the number above.
What is the projected growth of the COK over the next 50 years and it’s corresponding water needs? Keep adding.
Had the COK’s Water Department Superintendent done an assessment of all of its water promises outside of its current usage prior to issuing a ‘will share’ commitment to the Niagara Bottling Co.’s Proposal?
What’s in it for Kingston to sell their precious water source to Niagara, soon to be Nestle? Would said benefits out way the costs?
The answers (I wish I could turn them upside down so you couldn’t cheat).
6.1 million GPD.
A drought from 1957. Based on a 2007 report. The 6.1 number that we keep hearing today was the same then. Seven years ago.
3.5 million GPD. 1.75 million GPD. 5.25 million GPD. Dangerously close to our safe yield without including anything else.
You’d have to FOIL to find out.
Nope. Nothing made available at least as far as we have seen. Still, some city officials boast of their support even without it. You can bet the Water Department are scrambling around now to put something together given the reaction to water and Cooper Lake and what has been a terrible public process given our water source is being considered to sell in this way. Request that all documentation that informed their numbers be attached.
Kingston’s aging infrastructure is in desperate need of updates. Elected officials hope that by selling our water to Niagara, they could address the water dam at Cooper Lake and perhaps pipelines to Kingston. But in doing so, our new infrastructure may not have water to run through it.With interest rates as low as 3% (lower perhaps), could bonding for our needs be an option? What would the increase be to our water bill? Lets put that up for referendum to see how the public feels. I most certainly would prefer that option. Any day.
There are rumblings that Niagara Bottling Co. is in discussions to sell (or has already sold to) to Nestle. That all needs to be verified. In the meantime, google Nestle Waters and read what they are leaving behind in many economically depressed communities. Not that the Niagara news reports are any better. Hey, by the way – do you know who Niagara sells their water to? Costco. Walmart.
A “small, family business”. To the tune of 300 million dollars a year in profits from what I’ve read. In an 800 billion dollar business. That’s water and that’s why they are here.
Niagara is working to come to the area with their taxes abated for 10 years. That means, they will pay little to no tax for the duration. Whatever infrastructure costs there will be in the Town of Ulster (say for the wear and tear of 260 trucks in and out of Tech City) will be placed on the tax payer. Jobs promised are nothing more than that. With a little research, the salaries they offer is not much more than $13 – $14 an hour. Not even a living wage. Whatever managerial or engineering position salaries there are, there isn’t any promise that will all be located here. I can’t help but wonder how many of those 12o jobs for this project are truck drivers given there may be up to 260 of them.As for construction? Niagara applied for a CFA Grant and somehow rose to be endorsed as one of the mid-hudson regional economic development priorities in 2014 long before the news broke that Niagara was coming to the area. What does that mean? That they are on track to receiving more pubic money for their build. How much? It isn’t clear. The budget that they submitted for the grant isn’t available. Would someone mind telling me what Niagara is actually paying for to set up shop here in the area?
Without a good assessment of water use and promises/agreements made, there isn’t any knowing what lies ahead for us. Water isn’t something that can be manufactured or replaced. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Worst case scenario, does the COK have a secondary water supply in mind? Imagine building new infrastructure at Cooper Lake only to have to then build it all over again someplace else because it is bone dry. Will Kingston be drinking from the Hudson River like other river cities in the future?
According to this “Report on the Impact of the Proposed Hudson River Landing Development on Kingston Water Department” created in 2007, it says that “the COK had a daily water usage of 3.28 million GPD (today, it is at 3.5 million GPD) and that at that time our ‘safe or dependable yield’ was 6.1 million GPD.
“By definition, the safe yield of any water supply is the maximum dependable water supply that can be withdrawn continuously from a supply during a period of YEARS (how many?) in which the driest period or period of greatest deficiency in water supply is likely to occur.
For Kingston Water Supply that period CONTINUES TO BE THE DROUGHT OF 1957“
If we are reading this correctly, of note:
1. In 2007, the COK provided 3.28 million GPD on average. Today, that number is at 3.5 million GPD. No matter the size of the increase, it illustrates that our community will grow, as will our needs.
2. The 6.1 million GPD “safe or dependable” yield can be “used for a period of ‘years'”. Though not recommended in this document, if it were ever maxed – for how many years could Cooper Lake sustain? We are hearing that same number today in discussions regarding the Niagara Bottling Co proposal. 6.1 million GPD. Has it not changed in 7 years based on, say – climate change? (the report was written in 2007).
3. The COK Water Department is basing the 6.1 million GPD safe yield number on the drought of 1957. That’s over 50 YEAR AGO.
Based on just a little general research – and it all needs to be clarified – the drought of 1957 lasted 3 months. But in 1964 – 1966, a drought in the valley lasted 27 months? What about the 2012 drought? What were rainfall averages in the are from 1950 to today? I’m guessing there is enough data out there for a more current number – and I’d say that it appears that hasn’t been done, and it sure should have been prior to the Kingston Water Department issuing a “Will Share” to the proposed Niagara Project.
“Much of the battle to preserve and protect water resources happens at the state and local levels – in any number of policy choices advocated and made by individuals, organizations, companies, and governments. In recent years, water activists have begun to deploy a new tool geared to shape these decisions. Long-established in legal jurisprudence, the public trust doctrine holds that certain natural resources belong to all and cannot be privately owned or controlled because of their intrinsic value to each individual and society. While water resources protected under the doctrine may not be monopolized by private entities, they nevertheless face great strains today from private use and misuse.”
READ: The Public Trust Doctrine: Protecting Water Resources
READ: “Restoring the Trust: Water Resources and the Public Trust Doctrine: A Manuel for Advocates”
NEW! READ: “The Mono Lake Case, the Public Trust Doctrine, and the Administrative State”
VIEW the post on KingstonCitizens.org VIEW the event invitation on Facebook
Kingston Common Council Meeting
WHEN Tuesday, October 7th at 7:30pm
WHERE Kingston City Hall
Council Chambers (top floor)
420 Broadway (across from the Kingston High School)
By Rebecca Martin
It’s great to see so many residents and neighbors planning to attend the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, October 7th to speak or to simply be present on the proposed Niagara Bottling Co. project.
As you know, the Niagara Bottling Co. project came out of the blue for most everyone with an early article in the Times Herald Record (September 10th) and shortly after, making front page news in both the Daily Freeman and Kingston Times. From the proposal presented by Peter Romano of the Chazen Company to the Town of Ulster Planning Board on September 16th, Niagara Bottling Co. expressed their desire to begin their build in 2015. In doing so, they would be using the City of Kingston’s Cooper Lake to bottle and to sell as well as scouting out other ‘spring’ sources in Ulster County and beyond. The project was approved to be sent for a SEQRA review with the Town of Ulster Town Board taking the lead. A resolution was granted on 9/18/14 – just about the time the public became aware by the media. Romano’s presentations were not on either agendas posted by the Town of Ulster.
Because of the swiftness of it all, KingstonCitizens.org prepared a Facebook event so that the public could go in front of the Common Council as soon as possible. Although our passion for the subject is a no-brainer, this effort also illustrates how important it is to the people for transparent processes to be a priority for all local municipalities. Local officials, take note.
(It may be necessary to do the very same thing at the next Town of Ulster Town Board meeting, too. Their next Town Board meeting is on Thursday, October 16th at 7:00pm. Public comment appears to occur later in the meeting. Stay tuned).
WHAT TO EXPECT. WHAT TO DO
1. ARRIVAL: We expect a very large turnout. The meeting begins at 7:30pm, so please plan to arrive early (7:00pm) so to find parking, to sign-up to speak when the list becomes available and to get a seat. It’ll be standing room only.
2. KINGSTON COMMON COUNCIL: It appears that the Common Council were caught off guard as much as we were. Many, if not most, are as concerned too. As a first step, lets work with the council in finding a solution by including an action that you wish the Council to take that is well within their jurisdiction and abilities. We want them to come back to the table with an action in response to the public’s requests.
In Kingston, those that issued the ‘will share’ was City of Kingston Superintendent Judy Hansen of the Kingston Water Department. As an independent board, The Mayor of Kingston is the only public official who is a member. Ward 2 Alderman Brian Seche was given the role as council liaison, though it is unclear if he ever attended a meeting. The council, unfortunately, was never alerted.
Suggested Actions to request:
– For the Common Council to organize a public hearing/debate with city officials and guest speakers (such as Food & Water Watch).
– That a resolution be drafted to protect groundwater and Kingston’s surface water (Cooper Lake) from being being sold to private companies to bottle and to sell.
3. PUBLIC COMMENT: The public is taking advantage of the council meeting “public comment” period where anyone is able to speak. On his evening, we will be discussing Niagara, the use of Cooper Lake, and other items. As per council rules, council members “are not allowed to engage in debate during this period.” If the project gets any further, there will be time for debate and more. That’s a promise.
3. COMMENT LENGTH: Because of the number of people who will want to speak on the 7th, we ask that you come prepared with a statement. What is typical is that a speaker is given 3 minutes each. Try to keep it to that length and as noted above, consider ending with an action that you wish the Kingston Common Council to make that is in their jurisdiction.
4. THOSE IN FAVOR…: Jobs will be the argument made by those who attend in favor of the Niagara Bottling Co. project. For those who wish to, please prepare facts to counter.
5. FILMING: The public comment period will be filmed.
If you have further questions, please send them along to Rebecca Martin: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have recently created a Facebook invitation for the next Common Council meeting on Tuesday, October 7th. Please consider coming to speak during public comment (at the beginning of the meeting) on the proposed Niagara Bottling Co. plan to bottle and sell Kingston City Water.
The timing here is crucial, given that the group has apparently been in private talks with City officials for several months. Media reports say that they are planning to get moving as early as 2015.