City of Kingston’s Water and SEQR.


By Rebecca Martin

I’d like to turn your attention for a moment to a critical aspect of the current SEQR process for the Niagara Bottling Company where the Town of Ulster Town Board is lead agent.

Have a look at page 1 in ‘Full Environmental Assessment Form’ (EAF) submitted to SEQR. In the ‘Brief Description of Proposed Action‘ where it says:

“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. 

Why is this significant?

Read more…

Kingston’s Water Supply. A Pop Quiz.


Former Kingston alderman: Plan to bottle city water was introduced in the late 1980s. Click on the link to read the article in the Daily Freeman.
Former Kingston alderman: Plan to bottle city water was introduced in the late 1980s. Click on the link to read the article in the Daily Freeman.


By Rebecca Martin

Click on former Ward 3 Alderman Charlie Landi’s photo to read the recent article in the Daily Freeman.  It has inspired a pop quiz.  Lets see how much we know about Kingston’s water supply.

The Questions

  1. What is Cooper Lake’s current ‘safe or dependable’ yield?
  1. What is the current ‘safe or dependable yield’ number based on?
  1. 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?
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. What is the projected growth of  the COK over the next 50 years and it’s corresponding water needs? Keep adding.
  1. 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?
  1. 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)

  1. 6.1 million GPD.
  1. 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.
  1. 3.5 million GPD. 1.75 million GPD. 5.25 million GPD. Dangerously close to our safe yield without including anything else.
  1. You’d have to FOIL to find out.
  1. ?
  1. ?
  1. 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.
  1. 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?



Water is NOT a Commodity, Water is a Common Resource Fact Sheet

This is incredibly helpful, and especially the section titled ‘The Public Trust to help Safeguard Groundwater from Environmental Destruction and Privatization.




Kingston’s Cooper Lake “Safe Yield”. How’d They Come Up With That?


Click on IMAGE to read the report.

By Rebecca Martin

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.

Due diligence COK officials.

The Public Trust Doctrine: Protecting Water Resources

Click on image to read document.

“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”