Drought Shows Little Sign of Easing

Cold Spring reservoir

The Cold Spring reservoir on Sunday (Aug. 28); it has been at about half capacity. (Photo by M. Turton)

Cold Spring continues restrictions, seeks aqueduct connection  

The Highlands continue to endure drought conditions with little sign of change anytime soon. 

Matt Kroog, Cold Spring’s superintendent of water and sewer, reported that rainfall through the past week totaled just 0.01 inches. For the month of August, the village recorded 0.05 inches of precipitation. 

The forecast on Thursday (Sept. 1) showed a chance of showers on only three of the next 10 days. The Federal Climate Protection Center, in an updated forecast for Beacon and Cold Spring released on Wednesday, said drought conditions will persist through September. 

Mayor Kathleen Foley said at the Village Board meeting on Wednesday that at the end of June, village reservoirs were at nearly 100 percent capacity. Last week, Kroog estimated they had dropped to about 45 percent. A more detailed calculation this week increased that slightly to 52 percent.

“That’s better, but still a concern,” Foley said, adding that Kroog estimates the village has a 70- to 80-day supply at current usage levels. 

Despite declaring an emergency on Aug. 25 requiring residents to reduce usage, Foley said the village is finding violators. She said that while the village is drawing minimal water from its impoundment areas to meet demand, it is violating the order itself because of leaks such as near the corner of Rock Street and Kemble Avenue that are being repaired “as quickly as we possibly can.”

“Contrary to popular belief, they are not all the same leak,” Foley said. “We have infrastructure that’s more than 100 years old; often, when one leak is repaired, pressure will shift,” and a new one appears. 

The problem at Rock and Kemble, she said, is a faulty valve. Although the emergency order allowed the village to ease bid requirements, she said the earliest a repair could be scheduled was Tuesday (Sept. 6). 

Cold Spring is also hoping to make a temporary connection to the Catskill aqueduct where it crosses through Nelsonville at Fishkill Road so it will have an emergency supply. (The village also wants to make a longer-term connection so it can make repairs to the reservoir dams.) Cold Spring would have to pay for any water drawn from the aqueduct, which supplies New York City.

“It is very, very expensive,” Foley said. “If we do have to switch to the aqueduct, it’s going to be even more important that we conserve water.”

A representative from the New York City Department of Environment Protection, which operates the aqueduct, will meet with the Village Board later this month. 

Foley noted that, in addition to the water emergency, the village is under a fire emergency. “The fire company asks that there be no outdoor fires,” Foley said, urging residents to use extreme caution if grilling. 

The mayor said discussions regarding the enforcement of restrictions are ongoing with Nelsonville, which gets its water from the Cold Spring system. 

In other business…

  • Parking will be prohibited on Main Street from Fair Street to Church Street beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday (Sept. 3) for Community Day, and the street will be closed to all traffic from 1 to 8 p.m. While the fireworks were canceled due to the dry conditions, West Point will have pyrotechnics on Saturday night during its Labor Day concert at Trophy Point. 
  • The Village Board approved an agreement with Seastreak for 22 weekend cruises to Cold Spring from Sept. 10 to Nov. 13, as well as five Fridays. The boats, each with up to 400 passengers, will dock at 10:45 a.m. and depart at 3:30 p.m. Seastreak will pay the village $33,792 in docking fees. 
  • The board approved a Planning Board recommendation to grant two parking waivers to the owner of 11 Main St. for $250 each. Waivers can be granted when the number of parking spaces required in the village code cannot be met. The Planning Board had granted conditional approval of a change of use for the property from commercial to retail, dependent upon Village Board approval of the waivers. 
  • A public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 14 to hear comments about a proposed law that would permit village meetings to be broadcast remotely, a practice initiated during the pandemic.
  • The board eliminated a $30 application fee required by the Historic District Review Board for the installation of solar panels. 

One thought on “Drought Shows Little Sign of Easing

  1. So the Village of Cold Spring will earn $33,792 in docking fees this year. In exchange, this private company will turn a profit by bringing hordes of people to our village and negatively impact our quality of life, as well as our water supply in a time of drought? Seriously?

    Clearly, the Village Board is happy to prioritize the profit margin of Seastreak. They have sold the village out, and for a pathetically low amount. We should demand, at least, to not be sold out on the cheap. The board should have extracted a higher fee from Seastreak. Imagine all the infrastructure projects that the village could have afforded if the board had played hardball.

    Anyone who watches the board meetings on YouTube understands that that was never going to happen, given that the board acts more as an auxiliary of the Chamber of Commerce and the owners of Seastreak than officials who swore an oath to defend the public’s interest. Last month, a board member spoke openly during a meeting about how it was best if the boats also came on Fridays since that would help the bottom line for her own Main Street business.

    That was a staggering ethical breach, and a telling moment. Those of us who voted for these officials because they claimed that they would prioritize our quality of life now have proof of their hypocrisy. Sadly, until the next election, our residents will continue to pay the price.