Sunday, June 03, 2007

Water for Herkimer County

Herkimer County's legislature has finally realized that its long term future is in jeopardy if Mrs. Destito's proposed legislation to give the Mohawk Valley Water Authority unbridled control over 48.5 million gallons per day of Hinckley Lake water is enacted into law.

If state legislation gave control of the reservoir's water to the authority, plans for the next 50 years would include enough water to meet Herkimer County's needs, authority Executive Director Patrick Becher and engineers told legislators Wednesday, Becher said.

"All of our long-range plans include that entire area," he said.

Of course MVWA's plans include Herkimer County. Nothing would satisfy MVWA and its leadership more than to make customers of even more Herkimer County residents.

But maybe Herkimer County residents don't want MVWA to be their supplier. Why should they have to deal with MVWA to get their own Herkimer County water, whether it's now, 50 years from now, or later?

No matter what "riparian rights" MVWA may claim, those rights do not include taking water out of the watercourse and sending it elsewhere. To do such a thing requires the State's permission. That is because the water in the West Canada Creek, and Hinckley Reservoir, is the State's resource, not the MVWA's. It is for the State to decide (currently the DEC) whether a water resource, located in Herkimer County, should be used to satisfy needs elsewhere such as in western Oneida County. The State's decision making, meanwhile, is governed by a body of case law on how that decision should be made, including Syracuse v Gibbs, 283 NY 275 (1940) which obliges the State to ensure that water supplies which are more available for use by one community are not absorbed by another. [BTW, western Oneida County is already supplied water from Lake Ontario, so it does not need Herkimer County water. But if Herkimer County cannot get all that it needs from Hinckley Reservoir, there are few alternatives.]

Mrs. Destito's legislation would sweep all the State protections away, and , essentially, give the MVWA sovereignty over 48.5 MGD of water. This is unprecedented.

Herkimer County Legislator Bono wants a written guarantee on the percentage of water Herkimer County would get.
"I want a binding agreement," Bono said
While Legislator Bono is well intended, Herkimer County cannot afford to be naive. It was MVWA's breaking of an old agreement that has brought this entire issue to the forefront. Written agreements mean nothing to the MVWA . . . and no one should allow themselves to be blindsided by Mr. Becher's soothing presentations. There is a history of undependability there, and history has a habit of repeating itself.

Mrs. Destito's legislation needs to be killed ... now!


Anonymous said...

"State protections" What protections! The protection of state legislators who are getting big bucks for there campaigns from Brascon Power. Herkimer County has no problem with a non American company making tons of money off the Herkimer County resource and selling it elsewhere.

The MVWA rights go way back (Hinckley Fiber Company days) before the State decided to build a bigger dam.

What about the Towns of Schuyler and Frankfort were they residents want MVWA water. Last time I checked they were in Herkimer County too.

Strikeslip said...

To Anonymous - The state protections I'm referring to are not protections from our legislators -- They are the protections of (1) a state agency (DEC) that has both the expertise and the responsibility to ensure that the state's water resources are fairly allocated among the state's municipalities and (2) a body of case law and long-time statutory law that defines how this is to be done. Mrs Destito's legislation would do away with these protections, setting a dangerous precedent for the State (the powers to be given to MVWA are not given to any other water purveyor to my knowledge) and give the MVWA powers with no checks and balances. Read her legislation and you will see what I mean: no oversight by anyone.

MVWA's rights were settled with the state a long time ago by an agreement. That is what is being litigated now.

Re Frankfort and Schuyler, MVWA is only interested in new customers - anywhere - period. Its plans to send water to western Oneida County at some point will be harmful to F and S (as well as all communities MVWA serves in eastern Oneida Co.) for the reasons I stated above.

Anonymous said...

You gotta love the those Herkimer County Legislators. First they fight against the MVWA leaving hundreds of people in Schuyler and Frankfort without water. Then they leave out the members of the Jewish community for a community celebration It kinda makes you wonder if they really care about the people they represent.