Is Niagara Bottling Company right for Ulster County?

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 Cooper Lake. 10/4/14. This season was classified as “abnormally dry” by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Although New York is a water-rich state, our weather has become less predictable, rainfall is faster, there is more erosion, less snowmelt, and faster rates of transpiration.

 

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In the past, communities and regions depended on large corporations for jobs. Today, corporations that employ low-skilled labor move into areas desperate for jobs where they can pay less than industry standard wages. They mechanize to eliminate jobs and maximize profits. They don’t pay the cost of the dangerous chemicals they leave in our air and water. When they’ve depleted local resources or get a better deal elsewhere, they move on.

Before we give Niagara millions of dollars in tax breaks and grants that NY tax-payers must subsidize – and more than 25% of our water capacity that we may need to create quality jobs – we need to know if Niagara is really a good deal and safe choice for us. Twelve people – only six of them elected by us – have commandeered the decision making about the Niagara project for six communities. Some have signed a “non-disclosure agreement” with Niagara and are trying to make most of the decisions out of public view.

 

Selling our water in these uncertain times is not good policy for our region.

Niagara Water Bottling Facts

  • Niagara Bottling proposes to contract for 1.75 million gallons of water per day (GPD) from the City of Kingston’s water supply at Cooper Lake – more than 25% of Kingston’s daily capacity.
  • Pledging the lion’s share of our remaining water capacity could stall re-development and quality job creation in Kingston, as well as at the Tech City site in the Town of Ulster.
  • Niagara pledges only 120 below-industry-standard jobs – perhaps as few as 40 over the first five years – compared with the 7,000 high-tech jobs IBM created while using only 1 million GPD.
  • California-based Niagara has applied for “Start Up NY” support, guaranteeing the company NO taxes for 10 years, including no income or school taxes. Even if Niagara agrees to a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), New York taxpayers will have to make up millions of dollars in public revenues each year to support our roads, schools, and other public services.
  • Niagara has also applied for NYS grants – additional public money – to subsidize the construction of their 414,800 square foot plastics manufacturing and water bottling plant in the Town of Ulster.
  • Niagara seeks a permit for 260 trucks, coming and going around the clock every day from the plant (520 trips = one every 2.77 minutes), idling, polluting the area with diesel exhaust and creating traffic congestion in our busy family shopping area.
  • Niagara has applied for 25 water permits for local springs and other Mid Hudson Region water sources. The company is seeking approval for 300,000 GPD from a spring in the Town of Red Hook that would send 30 tanker trucks a day bound for Niagara’s Town of Ulster plant via Red Hook’s streets. How many of our communities are targeted for this heavy traffic and water depletion?
  • Niagara will release chemical by-products of plastic-making that are linked to cancer and asthma into the air near two schools and a neighborhood where hundreds of families live.
  • Niagara would dump 342,500 gallons of waste water into the Lower Esopus Creek every day. This would accelerate erosion and could threaten wildlife there.
  • Niagara has successfully sued in other states to increase their water demand, threatening communities that host them with bankruptcy, even in the face of local water shortages and drought. Groveland, FL settled for $1.75 million when Niagara sued for $4 million because the community couldn’t afford to lose.
  • Kingston Water Department (KWD) last fully evaluated Cooper Lake’s capacity in 1961 – 53 years ago. KWD calculated our capacity to meet Niagara’s demand assuming no population growth for Kingston, minimal growth for current businesses, and no impact to hydrology and precipitation from entirely removing more than half a billion gallons of water from the region each year.
  • Cooper Lake’s water source is small headwater stream of the Beaver Kill – known locally as Mink Hollow Brook – piped to Cooper Lake Reservoir through a short aqueduct. Mink Hollow Brook has a small watershed and runs turbid for many weeks at a time, alternating with many dry weeks at a time, making reservoir capacity a critical issue.
  • Kingston Water Department rates penalize those who use the least water with higher rates, and award those who use the most water with cheaper rates. While few communities across the nation still use this regressive pricing structure, it would guarantee extraordinary profits for Niagara, as KWD’s largest customer. It would also limit revenues on the last 25% of our water capacity and is bound to drive up rates for smaller users over time.
  • The Kingston Water Board wants Niagara revenues to offset decades of deferred maintenance on the city’s water infrastructure. With this record of questionable asset management – and their failure to update their 53-year-old capacity evaluation before issuing a “will serve” letter to Niagara, should we trust the KWD to make this cost benefit analysis for us?
  • Our neighbors in Woodstock, where Kingston’s Cooper Lake reservoir will meet Niagara’s water demand, could find that their wells don’t function during dry months.
  • The Town of Ulster Town Board and Kingston Water Board will make this decision for Kingston and our neighboring communities. Residents, property owners and rate-payers have no say.

 

We need your help!  Take Action Now!

* Learn more at KingstonCitizens.org. *

* Help inform others. *

* Tell your elected officials you want our region to create quality jobs that support families. *

* Tell them we want our tax dollars reinvested in NY businesses, not given away in windfall tax abatements to out-of-state corporations.*

* Ask our leaders for their business development and job creation plan! *

6 thoughts on “Is Niagara Bottling Company right for Ulster County?

  1. This is absurd. We do not need water to be bottled for us. The only time we need container of clean drinking water is in natural disasters. Large corporations are not only making money off of this but they’re wasting valuable resources and receiving insane tax breaks which in turn raises the average tax payers taxes. Corporations like this may provide jobs for desperate people but they are also corrupting an already corrupt system. I’m so sick of this!!!!

  2. Kingston Freeman LTE sent 2/10/2014.

    There have been many responses by citizens and government officials to the Niagara Bottling plant proposed to be built in the town of Ulster. Most have pointed out the potential environmental problems associated with the release of waste water into the lower Esopus Creek, and the consequences of tapping a public water supply during a period of dramatic climate change. However, there is also an economic development side to the story.

    The bottling plant promises 140 relatively low paying jobs if it reaches full capacity, The water use would be about the same as that utilized in the past by IBM. However, IBM Kingston employed thousands of workers with wages high enough to support a middle class family. IBM families, paid their taxes and contributed their share to the economy within the Hudson Valley. Unlike the bottling plant, IBM didn’t receive the tremendous local and state tax breaks being offered to the bottling plant. The plant would be a relatively tax free zone for a decade or more for the owners and the workers. This is prime real estate that would be subsidized by we, the taxpayers. We can do better. IBM tragically left us. If the history of companies in our area receiving generous tax breaks, with some falling short of their promised job creation projections shows us anything, it is that they, like Niagara, might in the end leave us figuratively and literally, high and dry. In my opinion, this project simply on economic issues alone is not worth supporting.

  3. Thank you, Mr. Harkavy. I agree with you that we can do better and that ” …this (Niagra) project simply on economic issues alone is not worth supporting.” In addition to the important points made above, consider the long term economic fallout from environmental damage which is very significant. Our water is priceless, Water pollution, misuse and commodification are criminal.

  4. Thank you for all the information regarding this topic. I’m opposed to Niagara water company coming to this area and hopefully others are able to see that the cons outweigh the pros.

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