Reservoir has fallen further since alert
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
“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.”