New well awaits link to Garrison treatment plant

Philipstown is hoping by spring to activate a new water supply to Garrison’s Landing, where homes and businesses have been relying on trucked-in water that has cost more than $1 million over the last four years. 

The town is preparing to solicit bids from contractors to connect a new well on property it owns at Routes 9D and 403 to the Garrison Landing Water District treatment plant on Lower Station Road, said Bob Flaherty, a member of the Town Board. 

Water from the well, which produces 20 gallons a minute, will run under Route 9D and through the Highlands Country Club property to the plant, with Philipstown using a $750,000 allocation from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to pay for the connection.

Landing sign
The Town Board has placed restrictions on water usage on Garrison’s Landing.

Despite the upfront cost, the line will save Philipstown money. Trucking in water costs $25,000 to $30,000 a month, said Flaherty. Under state law, the fees collected from the 84 water district customers for operations and maintenance are capped at $20,000 annually; the town has been spending reserve funds to cover costs. 

Flaherty said the goal is to have the new water source connected before the Highlands golf course reopens in the spring. “It’s going to feel great once we get this 100 percent completed, because that’s going to alleviate a lot of fees,” he said. 

Created in 1998 to serve homes and businesses on and near Garrison’s Landing, the district formerly drew from three wells, but they more recently have been unable to meet demand.

In its search for a new source, Philipstown considered spending $800,000 to run a mile-long connection from its water tank at the Recreation Center. The town also drilled a 960-foot well that did not turn out to have sufficient water. 

Supervisor John Van Tassel said in March 2022 that the water purchases were “bleeding the town dry.” Flaherty noted at the time that the district had run out of water twice in two weeks. “There’s something strange going on there,” whether a hidden leak or malfunction or someone’s deliberate rerouting of water, he said. Last November Van Tassel cited the water district costs as one reason the town needed to raise taxes by 8.3 percent for 2024.

This is not the first time that Garrison’s Landing customers have faced a water crisis. After the Town Board voted in August 1998 to create the water district and take over the century-old system, it discovered the supply pipe that runs along Lower Station Road was clogged with scale and rust. The Putnam County Health Department said the system had been in crisis for at least 10 years but that no one wanted to take responsibility for it.

Garrison Station Plaza, which owned seven properties in the district, installed temporary above-ground piping, and volunteers and Philipstown Highway Department workers covered it with dirt, insulation and mulch to prevent freezing. A 5,000-gallon water truck brought to the landing by the New York Army Reserve National Guard allowed residents to fill their storage tanks; it was emptied in about three days.

At the same time, Delmar Karlen, the acting superintendent of the district, told the Town Board that the low bid to clean, reline and replace sections of pipe and reline the cement reservoir was $226,625, or about $100,000 more than the board had approved for the work.

Two decades later, in 2018, the town spent weeks searching for the source of a leak that cost 3,000 gallons a day. The search led to a corroded joint where a service line from a residence on Lower Station Road connected to the main. 

By September 2019, the system’s problems included cloudy water and a failed pump on one of its three wells. Philipstown began trucking in water. 

“That system has been the bane of my existence,” then-Supervisor Richard Shea said that month. “When it works, it works well,” but when it doesn’t, “it’s an impossible situation.” 

Last month, Cold Spring agreed in principle to conduct routine testing on the water supply until Philipstown can hire an outside firm to run the district.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

The Peekskill resident is a former reporter for the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, where he covered Sullivan County and later Newburgh. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: General.

Leave a comment

The Current welcomes comments on its coverage and local issues. All online comments are moderated, must include your full name and may appear in print. See our guidelines here.