Was there ever a new tap agreement? 120 houses used the system, only 34 had it as their only water source. Can it be argued that Lake Peekskill is responsible because they benefitted? Most of them did not.
It’s Law – PV Town Board Votes To Shut Down Lake Peekskill Seasonal Water Supply
by Edward Paul Greiff
After almost 40 years of debates, numerous surveys, water studies, geological studies, and countless public hearings and meetings, the Putnam Valley Town Board enacted into law on June 16 a resolution to shut down the Lake Peekskill Seasonal Water System. In doing so it has set a new legal precedent, as this has never been done before.
Town Supervisor Carmelo Santos told the resident spectators that the Board has exhausted every possibility for obtaining funding to save and repair the system, but that Lake Peekskill does not qualify for financial aid. The median income in Lake Peekskill ranges between $56,597 and $73,000, the cutoff for a grant is $38,000.
Councilman Bob Tendy complimented the Board and especially Councilman Steve Johnson and Town Attorney Bill Zutt for their efforts to try and come to an amicable solution to the problem.
Supervisor Carmelo Santos read the “Lake Peekskill Improvement District Surface Water Treatment Rule Compliance” resolution that the Town Board was to vote on. He was very precise in his articulation of the twenty-seven “Whereas” clauses (the reasons and rationale behind the resolution), which are summed up as follows:
– The Lake Peekskill Improvement District (LPID) provides a seasonal water supply to District residents from the Catskill Aqueduct owned and operated by the City of New York.
– There are 943 properties in the LPID, 909 have their own wells, and 34 rely on the LPID system as their sole water source.
– Of the 943 properties only 120 utilize the LPID system.
– The New York State Health Department issued an Administrative Tribunal Decision on April 23, 2002 because of violations to the NY State Sanitary Code ordering the LPID to fix the problem or abandon the aqueduct tap.
– In order to comply the LPID was required by the NYS Department of Health to update its distribution system according to NYSDOH Standards.
– The Northern Westchester Joint Consolidated Water Works would not allow LPID to tap into their water supply.
– Laberge Engineering was retained by the Town to investigate an alternate groundwater source and this was determined to be speculative, problematic and of questionable long-term reliability.
– The estimated cost of a filtration plant and upgraded distribution system as required by the Health department was estimated by Laberge to cost $18.6 million, of which approximately $13.6 million was attributed to the distribution system.
– A public referendum with respect to the selection of a compliance option is not lawfully permitted under NY State Law.
– The Town Board, in lieu of a referendum, distributed a survey form to all LPID property owners of which 70% replied to the survey, and of those responding nearly 80% favored a system shutdown.
– Public Hearings were held and the Town Board received testimony from the public and from representatives of the NY State and Putnam County Health Departments.
– A shutdown of the current aqueduct tap will not foreclose reconnection to the aqueduct tap in the future subject to an appropriate new Tap Agreement.
– For those properties whose sole water source is the LPID system the Town needs to provide an engineering plan for the installation of a well either individual or shared.
– The Health Department informed the Town Board that if a new system were installed all property owners would be required to connect their properties to the system.
– Laberge Engineering estimated the connection cost for the average property owner at between $5,000 and $10,000.
– Repayment of the $18.6 million debt would require each property owner to pay approximately $1,500 per annum for a property whose assessment represents the average of all properties in the LPID.
– The Town Board has determined that despite the benefits of an upgraded year-round community water supply the financial burden upon the vast majority of LPID property owners would be prohibitive and outweighs the benefits to be derived from the upgraded system.
The Resolution adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Putnam Valley selects the option proposed by the NY State Health Department’s Administrative Tribunal Decision issued April 23, 2002, “Abandon the aqueduct tap, cease operation of the system, and provide a comprehensive plan prepared by a professional engineer that addresses the need of each lot whose sole current water source is the seasonal system supplied by the LPID.”
The resolution also provides that Laberge Engineering, as the Town’s Consulting Engineers, will prepare, on behalf of the Town Board, a written report for submission to the New York State Health Department describing how the LPID will cease operation, and provide a comprehensive plan to address the need of each of the thirty-four properties which will be deprived of their sole water source.
The Putnam Valley Town Board was polled for their vote: Santos Yes, Johnson Yes, Ricci Yes, and Tendy No. Councilman Fred Finger was on vacation.