Officials confident city has enough water
Beacon’s moratorium on residential and commercial construction, enacted in September and extended in January, expired this week and city officials did not recommend extending it further.
The City Council authorized the moratorium, which lasted nine months and was Beacon’s second in a two-year span, after a drinking-water well (Well No. 2) with a capacity of a million gallons per day was deactivated last year when it began producing “cloudy” water following the installation of a new pump.
A land-use moratorium is typically used like a “pause” button to allow a municipality time to address unforeseen circumstances, and the loss of the well raised concerns about Beacon’s long-term water supply, city officials said. With the exception of single-family homes and other low-impact projects, the moratorium froze nearly all approvals for development.
With the freeze lifted, the Planning Board can now vote on whether to allow high-profile developments such as those at 248 Tioronda Ave. and the city’s former Department of Public Works site on Creek Drive to proceed.
Both of Beacon’s recent moratoriums have been water-related; the city’s previous freeze expired in March 2018 after a hydrology consultant projected that Beacon’s water supply would be sufficient through at least 2035.
While numerous repairs have been attempted on Well No. 2, the city has also worked to manage development through its continued review of zoning laws during the most recent freeze, Mayor Lee Kyriacou said during the council’s May 26 meeting, held by video conference.
During the discussion, Council Member Dan Aymar-Blair asked why, if the well is still not in operation, city officials felt OK letting the moratorium expire. City Administrator Anthony Ruggiero said the consultant believes Beacon has more than enough water capacity even if Well No. 2 cannot be repaired.
In addition to its two wells, which can provide up to 1.65 million gallons per day, Beacon draws water from three reservoirs that can provide a combined 1.5 million gallons per day. The city also has an agreement to buy up to 1.2 million gallons per day from Fishkill.
With those sources, “we have over 170,000 surplus gallons a day,” Ruggiero said.
Consultants in 2017 also discovered a third well that, once deepened and approved by the state, could yield around 576,000 gallons per day. The council is expected on Monday (June 1) to approve hiring a firm to prep the well.
“Everyone is more than comfortable that we can get the work done in time,” as the moratorium expires, Ruggiero said. “There’s plenty of water.”
The council is also expected on Monday to approve spending $190,000 to install a new pump at Well No. 2. If all goes as planned, it could be back online in two to three months, Ruggiero said Thursday.