Kiryas Joel, NY – The long awaited completion of the first phase of a pipeline that would give Kiryas Joel access to the upstate aqueduct that supplies New York City with water has been stalled yet again, this time by an appeals court decision that granted a request for a preliminary injunction and denied Kiryas Joel access to a well located approximately 11 miles away.
Anticipating its continued growth, Kiryas Joel has been planning the 13.5 mile pipeline which would give the village access to New York City’s Catskill Aqueduct water supply since 2000 reported The Photo News (http://bit.ly/2qfZhMa). The first stage of the pipeline would hook Kiryas Joel’s water supply into a 9.7 acre well field that it owns in the Mountainville section of Cornwall, giving the village access to 612,000 gallons of water a day.
The pipeline has survived numerous challenges including a 2016 lawsuit filed by opponents who expressed concern that pumping water from the well to Kiryas Joel would have adverse effects on the water supply in nearby areas, as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2qg82WI). Acting State Supreme Court Justice Henry Zwack rejected claims that the Department of Environmental Conservation had erred by allowing Kiryas Joel to connect the pipeline to the Cornwall well, throwing out two lawsuits that questioned the validity of the permit granted by the DEC.
Since then, work on the first section of the $60 million pipeline has been moving along, with village officials saying that they expected to be able to start accessing the Cornwall water by the beginning of June. But opponents of the project filed another challenge to the pipeline on April 11th, the first day of Pesach, asking a judge for an injunction that would prohibit Kiryas Joel from accessing the Cornwall water while they appeal the 2016 Supreme Court case.
A one sentence decision handed down last Thursday granted that motion, bringing Kiryas Joel’s plans to expand its water supply by early June to a screeching halt.
Unless overturned by the courts, the injunction will prevent Kiryas Joel from using the Cornwall well until the Appellate Division issues a ruling on the permit challenge.
Opponents of the well have argued that allowing Kiryas Joel to pump over 600,000 gallons of water daily will strain the local water supply, despite DEC safeguards to prevent those problems. According to water experts working for the Village of Kiryas Joel, those claims are unfounded.
Kiryas Joel officials have said that they are already experiencing a water shortage and that tanker trunks have been brought in to supplement the village’s water supply.
The second phase of the pipeline will link Kiryas Joel to its expected permanent water source, the Catskill Aqueduct, by extending the pipeline from Cornwall to its final destination.
According to Kiryas Joel officials, once the full pipeline has been completed, the Cornwall well would only be used as a back up water supply but it is reasonable to assume that the second phase of the pipeline, like the first, will meet with objections from opponents.
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus described the pipeline as “a textbook example of bad planning.”
“Anywhere else in America, it would have been a regional pipeline and everyone along the line would have been allowed to tie in,” he added. “Instead, KJ controls the spigot and everyone else has to sit back and watch as this pipeline goes through their communities.”
Kiryas Joel officials did not immediately return a call for comment.