In September, the citizens of Kingston became aware of a proposed diversion of up to 1.75 million gallons per day of their municipal water supply to the Town of Ulster. The proposal to sell this water would support the profit-making interests of Niagara Water Bottling Company, a California company that projects in return 100 or so jobs that pay below industry standards. They are also expected to seek the maximum tax exemptions, potentially shifting the burden to residents and local business. Since that time, KingstonCitizens.org has led a concerted effort to understand the details of this proposal that has involved the Kingston community as well as residents in surrounding communities who would also be affected.
The future of the water supply for residents of Kingston must not be left in the hands of the Town of Ulster, “from where the water does not come and for whom it was not intended.” Niagara Bottling Company filed an incomplete Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) to the State, which was approved by both the Town of Ulster’s Planning Board and its Town Board. The Town of Ulster has shown Kingston and neighboring communities good reason to be concerned by their insistence to take the role of Lead Agency in the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process: as Lead Agency, they would assume the responsibility to determine whether this project has any potential environmental impact. This poses a conflict, given the Town of Ulster’s clear interest in seeing this project move forward, regardless of the possible environmental risks.
KingstonCitizens.org would like to thank the Kingston Common Council for standing up for the citizens’ interests, as well as environmental groups for their diligent scrutiny of the Niagara Bottling Company proposal.
KingstonCitizens.org specifically thanks Riverkeeper and the Town of Woodstock for their urgent statments to the DEC and the DEP and the Kingston Common Council for taking a stand in this matter, too. We would like to see these State and New York City agencies get more deeply involved in the environmental review of this proposed project.
But most of all, we wish to thank the hundreds of engaged residents who are giving their time to better understand the Town of Ulster action. Our citizens will continue to be present at public meetings that may decide the future security of our water supply.