Saturday, May 10, 2008

Water Over the Dam?

Today's OD raises the question "Should authority extend water lines?" without delving whatsoever into the pros and cons of whether or not the Mohawk Valley Water Authority should be allowed to redistribute Herkimer County, Hinckley Reservoir water to central and western Oneida County.

Of course, until the lawsuit between the MVWA and Canal Corp. is resolved, the question is purely academic because, technically, there is currently no water to distribute.
If water authority officials succeed in winning their case, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials would grant them permits to extend pipes to additional areas, said Skip Shoemaker, the DEC's Region 6 engineer and reservoir working-group member.
If DEC thinks that the court case will settle things, and is planning on granting the permit for Verona, then it better think again. It will likely have a fight on its hands.

DEC knows very well that the application to send water to Verona does not meet the permit issuance standards of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) in several important respects including:

  • The application fails to show the need for and the reasons why Hinckley Reservoir was selected as Verona’s water supply source from among alternative sources that are or may become available. (ECL §15-1503(1)). Curiously, the engineering study included with the application concluded that it would be LESS cost-effective for Verona to obtain water from Hinckley/MVWA than from the City of Rome, or the Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA).

  • The application fails to show that the water supply will be adequate to supply Verona in addition to its current service area (ECL §15-1503(1)). MVWA estimates a 2025 water demand of 29MGD within its existing service area, plus 2MGD for Verona, plus 1MGD (current) for Vernon and Sherrill. That's 32 MGD total . . . which equals the capacity of the filtration plant . . . and leaves no room for a 3MGD chip fab! Even not considering the limitation of the filtration plant, the supply still is inadequate (see next bullet).

  • The application fails to show that the proposal is just and equitable to all affected municipalities and their inhabitants with regard to their present and future needs for sources of water supply (ECL §15-1503(2)). DEC is obliged to ensure that water supplies which are more available for use by one community are not absorbed by another. Syracuse v Gibbs, 283 NY 275 (1940). Greater Utica will be the biggest loser here. The Oneida-Herkimer Counties Comprehensive Water Supply Study concluded in 1968 that if there was significant regional population growth, central Oneida County should be served by Rome, and western Oneida County should be served by Lake Ontario (i.e., OCWA) or other nearby sources, and that Hinckley should be reserved for Greater Utica and Herkimer County. (The study actually predicted an eventual a shortage for Greater Utica even if Hinckley water was reserved for eastern Oneida and Herkimer Counties). No good reason has been presented to deviate from this long-standing plan.

That DEC is prepared to issue permits in the face of these glaring deficiencies should be another red flag that DEC answers to politically connected interests above protecting the environment and the people of the State of New York. Oneida County is on a "development" binge that seems to be driving decision making both locally and at the DEC, and is giving us a horrible case of urban sprawl (with a declining population to support it).

Look at the lands that the pipeline will pass to see who will be enriched.

1 comment:

waterboy said...

I think they Water Authority should forget the Verona Plan. Stick to the current service area, the crews are spread too thin now what happens when there is break in Vernon and one in the current service area with the cost of gas these day there will be no added income to the MVWA only more money going out. Mr. Becher the dream is over.