Lawsuit over KJ water project

Posted on 30 May 2013 by Community Voice NY

3 municipalities say village didn’t follow agreement

Attorneys for three municipalities suing to halt construction of Kiryas Joel’s water pipeline allege the village is installing a wider pipe than it promised without analyzing the resulting impact of increased water flow and population growth in Kiryas Joel.

In documents filed this week in state Supreme Court, attorneys for the Town of Woodbury and villages of Woodbury and Harriman say the 24-inch-wide pipe workers are burying beside Seven Springs Road in Woodbury will carry 70 percent more water than the 18-inch pipe Kiryas Joel assented to after its contentious environmental review ended in 2009.

Kiryas Joel had initially planned for a 24-inch pipe, but agreed to a smaller one to allay environmental concerns.

What’s more, the lawyers say, Kiryas Joel’s addition of a pump station near the pipeline’s midpoint in Cornwall — not mentioned in the 2009 environmental conclusions — would increase the system’s capacity even further, although they don’t specify by how much.

“KJ is vastly expanding its project under the radar of any environmental review,” attorneys David Gordon and James Bacon wrote.

“The substantially larger Pipeline coupled with the new pump station vastly increases its potential to create further growth, with corresponding impact on neighboring communities.”

Those and other claims were added to the plaintiffs’ case to bolster their appeal for court intervention to suspend work on the pipeline, which is slowly advancing across Woodbury.

Ultimately, the pipe is expected to stretch 13.5 miles to New Windsor, where it would meet New York City’s Catskill Aqueduct — a giant water source the village has hoped to tap for more than a decade.

The Woodburys and Harriman are asking Supreme Court Justice Francis Nicolai to stop construction until Kiryas Joel does further environmental review and gets needed approvals from New York City and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

They’re also demanding the removal of the “oversized” pipeline the village has already installed.

Attorneys are scheduled to appear before Nicolai on June 10 in Putnam County.

The plaintiffs are challenging Kiryas Joel’s ability to proceed before getting the state’s permission to tap a Cornwall well located along the pipeline route.

That well, crucial to Kiryas Joel to establish a required backup supply, is being challenged by Woodbury officials, who say it threatens to compete with a new wellfield they plan to activate soon.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys also point out that work began without New York City’s formal approval to tap the Catskill Aqueduct.

Without permission to draw water from either the Cornwall well or the aqueduct, “there is no justification for KJ to be constructing the pipeline at all,” they wrote.

By Chris Mckenna
Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM – 05/18/13




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