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The Times
  • Butler calls for hearing on water authority’s request for more water

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  • HERKIMER — Assemblyman Marc Butler has called on the state Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a public hearing on a proposal by the Mohawk Valley Water Authority to increase the amount of water it withdraws from Hinckley Reservoir.
    The MVWA has applied to the DEC for a modification of its water supply permit. The MVWA currently withdraws approximately 21.4 million gallons per day from the reservoir, and has asked to increase that amount to 32 million gallons per day, the capacity of its water treatment facility. The application indicates the MVWA is filing prospectively on behalf of four townships in the region — Schuyler, Frankfort, Kirkland and Westmoreland. Ultimate plans are for the MVWA to increase its treatment capacity and increase its take from Hinckley to 48.5 million gallons per day.
    The public notice for the modification was published in The Observer-Dispatch on Dec. 19, according to the DEC. The process gives the public 30 days to submit written comments on the proposal to the DEC, making the deadline to comment on the project a little more than one week away. In the meantime, the DEC has said it will consider whether to call for a formal public hearing on the proposal.
    Butler said calls for a public hearing and testimony should be submitted to William Lints, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, State Office Building, 207 Genesee St., Utica, NY 13501-2885.
    “I have to say that I do not believe it is coincidental that this notice was made public right before the holidays, when people are taking time off from work and otherwise occupied. The plan is very complex and far-reaching and for people to get the information from the DEC, assess it and then comment on it is difficult under normal circumstances. I don’t believe this is being handled in the best interests of the public,” Butler, R-Newport, said.
    The application does not state how much water is needed by the four townships and is vague on other details, Butler said.
    He said the MVWA has talked in the past about a pipeline extension to Western Oneida County and the town of Verona.
    Butler also said he believes taking water from Hinckley and piping it to Western Oneida County constitutes an out-of-basin water transfer, something the DEC has had a policy against, except in instances of emergency. The outflow from Hinckley, the West Canada Creek, flows south and east for 18 miles through several Oneida and Herkimer County townships.
    “I continue to have strong concerns about the water level impacts the MVWA’s plans will have on the West Canada, a highly regarded trout fishing stream. I also believe this discussion discounts the rights of property owners along the scenic creek,” he said.
    Butler also said previous reports have identified alternate water sources for Western Oneida County, which may be more efficient and less costly than the proposed pipeline expansion.
    Page 2 of 2 - “With the possibility of nano-technology development in Marcy, a larger water user, the value of Hinckley’s water is even more significant. While I have no objection to the four named townships already a part of the MVWA’s system receiving additional water, I believe DEC’s role should be to protect this valuable resource for our future,” he said.
    With the nano-technology proposal, Butler said, it is time for interested parties to sit down and develop a long-term plan for Hinckley’s water.
    The assemblyman said he is not convinced Hinckley has the capacity to serve the needs of Western Oneida County and the nano-technology development.
    “The additional time and scrutiny that a public hearing process will provide are essential at this point. Whether you favor or oppose this plan, how can you object to the public being involved and engaged in this important process,” Butler said.
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