Reser­voir has fallen fur­ther since alert

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Kirby pkirby@free­manon­ paulat­free­man on Twit­ter

Cooper Lake, Kingston’s main reser­voir, is down to only 70 per­cent full, ac­cord­ing to the city Wa­ter Depart­ment.

The new fig­ure comes just two weeks af­ter the city is­sued a “drought alert,” which urges vol­un­tary wa­ter con­ser­va­tion, be­cause the reser­voir had fallen to 75 per­cent of its ca­pac­ity.

The av­er­age for this time of year is about 85 per­cent.

City Wa­ter Su­per­in­ten­dent Ju­dith Hansen said the reser­voir, which is in the town of Wood­stock, had about 840,000 gal­lons of wa­ter in it as of Thurs­day. It’s max­i­mum ca­pac­ity is 1.2 bil­lion gal­lons. The prob­lem ap­pears to be that wa­ter users didn’t heed the call

to con­serve.

“Sadly, since declar­ing the drought alert ... de­mand in the city has in­creased by some 150,000 gpd (gal­lons per day) and Cooper Lake reser­voir has dropped to 70 per­cent of its ca­pac­ity,” Hansen said in an email. “No one can know how long this dry spell will last, and ev­ery­thing that we can do to col­lec­tively to re­duce this de­mand will help to post­pone the im­po­si­tion of more oner­ous manda­tory re­stric­tions.

“I would ask all of our cus­tomers to think care­fully about how they use wa­ter and con­serve when­ever pos­si­ble,” Hansen added.

If the wa­ter level in Cooper Lake falls to 60 per­cent ca­pac­ity, the city could de­clare a “drought warn­ing,” Hansen said. At 50 per­cent, a “drought emer­gency” could be put in place, which would in­volve “manda­tory re­stric­tions for all,” Hansen said.

Kingston has de­clared only two drought emer­gen­cies in the last 36 years — one in 1980, the other in 2012.

Hansen said there ac­tu­ally are three drought emer­gency stages, with Stage 3 be­ing the most se­ri­ous. She said that stage has never been reached in the his­tory of the Kingston Wa­ter Depart­ment.

Asked how the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion might have af­fected the for­merly pro­posed Ni­a­gara Bot­tling wa­ter plant — which wanted to buy Cooper Lake wa­ter from the city and bot­tle it at a town of Ul­ster fa­cil­ity — Hansen said, “spec­u­lat­ing on a wa­ter sale that never hap­pened serves lit­tle prac­ti­cal pur­pose.”

“How­ever,” she said, “the man­date of the Board of Wa­ter Com­mis­sion­ers, as out­lined in the City Char­ter, is to pro­vide potable wa­ter to the res­i­dents of the City of Kingston. There­fore, sig­nif­i­cant re­stric­tions on nonessen­tial wa­ter sales out­side of the city, in­clud­ing the out­right cur­tail­ment of those sales in a se­vere drought emer­gency, have al­ways been part of the depart­ment’s emer­gency plans in a drought and have his­tor­i­cally been in­cluded in any con­tract for the sale of wa­ter out­side of the city.”

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