by Robert Kimmel –
“They would be looking for us to establish a new law local law within the Village Code for water conservation. Obviously, they want all the municipalities that buy water from them to reduce our ‘lost’ water.”
— Richard Slingerland
Tarrytown has signed on to a proposal developed by its water supplier, New York City, to cut down on water consumption. The Water Demand Management Plan, approved by the Board of Trustees last month, calls for the village to work with the city to reduce water use by five percent, from its 2013 levels with a focus on curbing “unmetered water.”
The city’s plan actually goes back to 2016 and was revised after village talks with New York’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and its Water Control Board. New York is pursuing similar reductions among all of its wholesale municipal customers.
Through its control of a wide system of aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels, from the Catskill, Delaware and Croton watersheds upstate, New York City daily provides more than one billion gallons of water not only to its own population, but to municipalities in four counties north of the city, including Westchester.
Tarrytown regularly gets its water from the Catskill Aqueduct System, but if repairs or emergencies interrupt that flow, it can obtain its water from the Croton Aqueduct.
The city’s water use reduction pursuit was prompted by concerns about population increases, aging infrastructure requiring repairs, and emergency situations such as droughts. When the original plans were conceived, it was estimated that there would be an additional one million customers in the city’s system by 2020. The plan was also driven by concerns about the unmetered water being wasted through leakage and other problems, reducing water consumption revenue.
About 11,500 consumers in Tarrytown were provided with water through 2,506 service connections in 2013, according to municipal records. From 2013 to 2015, New York’s Plan states that there was an almost 20% increase in the amount of water purchased by the village, attributed mostly to hot and dry weather conditions. It also reported an increased use of about 35% in unmetered, non-revenue-producing water during those years. Some of that loss is incurred when customer water consumption is not measured properly for billing. The city’s representatives have indicated ways they “could help the village reduce consumption of our unmetered water,” Village Administrator Richard Slingerland said.
“Tarrytown has many challenges in regard to water loss control, including that it is an elderly sysytem providing water service over a diverse topography,” the Plan stated. From evaluating the village’s system, it provided a series of options for Tarrytown. They included additional leak detection and line repair, a transition to monthly billing for customers, and an upgraded voucher program for residential customers that could help pay for retroffiting fixtures such as toilets, showers, and faucets. It also called for auditing and upgrading commercial and institutional customers and advanced metering leak detection and customer “leak alerts,” as well as expanded metering.
Refering to those measures, Slingerland said, “They would be looking for us to establish a new law local law within the Village Code for water conservation. Obviously, they want all the municipalities that buy water from them to reduce our ‘lost’ water.” There is no indication yet that the village would have to raise water rates to meet the requirements; however, there was a recomendation that a two or three tier rate structure be devised before any infrastructure work begins. The loss of revenue from Tarrytown’s unmetered usage was more than $140,000 in 2015, according to the city’s evaluation.
Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and Briarcliff Manor have an agreement to share the expenses of operating a 30-inch water transmission main delivering water from the Catskill Aqueduct, and the villages are studying further consolidation of water supplies, pumping stations and storage facilities as well as water loss control. That could result in further savings for all three villages.
Potential water supply problems are looming because of “major rehabilitation” of the main that brings water from the Catskill reserve, according to Slingerland. “At times they are going to be shutting down that pipe anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to as much as weeks at a time if not months if necessary,” he explained. “We would have to switch our water from the Catskill Reservoir, and we are going to see if we can receive water from the Delaware system and we also may have to draw down the water from the Croton System. If that becomes neccessary, we (our residents), would be subject to a boil water requirement or all drinking water consumed from that because of lack of treatment on the Croton supply.”
New York City is also altering The Catskill Reserve to provide more water while a major new tunnel is being constructed to renovate the Delaware system, and the three villages are working to mitigate any water problems from that construction.
An upcoming infrastructure change involving a traffic rotary to be constructed by New York State is also a concern for Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and Briarcliff Manor. The planned rotary where 9A, Old Saw Mill River Road, and 100 C intersect, is “exactly over our 30 inch, 45-year-old water main, serving the three villages, about 30,000 people,” Slingerland said. “It is only four feet deep, and the last thing we want is for them to damage it during construction. They are going to place seven to nine feet of fill on top of that which would triple the depth it is currently at and complicate repair of the pipe.”
“We notified the state about this, and they agreed to work with us to fund a relocation for the main, out from under the footprint of that traffic rotary,” Slingerland stated. “Working together, we will retain an engineer and expedite the process, and New York State is going to reimburse all of our expenses.”
The Town of Greenburgh began discussions with New York’s DEP in 2014, in a move to cut its water consumption by five percent by 2019. Last month, the town’s Commisioner of Public Works, Victor Carosi stated, “The water advisory committee is engaged with the NYC DEP on this matter. We have met recently and are expecting a draft report action plan in the next few months.”