Water Committee survey completed and shared with village and town

The Village and Town boards met jointly on Tuesday, Feb. 26, to hear an update on the Village Water Committee report. Village Trustee and Water Committee member Mike Herzog presented a summary of the report from surveys that were sent to town residents regarding the village’s water and how to best protect it.The Village Water Committee, which was started in July 2010, began by examining possible threats to the town’s watershed area and broached the idea of establishing a secondary back-up water source, according to Herzog. Out of all the aquifers in the town of Washington only one exists in the village of Millbrook. After the aquifers were identified the Water Committee investigated the need for a second water source. After a year of discussion and consultations it was decided that establishing a secondary site would do more harm than good.In May 2011 the committee focused on the laws that currently protect the village’s water sources. It discovered two laws: a 1995 law governing parts of Washington that was put in place by the state, as well as a law put on the books in 1990, at a Town Board meeting. Both gave some aquifer protection, but only to certain segments of the town. “In December 2011 we gave a report to the village making recommendations on how to proceed,” Herzog said. “In February 2012, after discussing a set of long-term goals, we started working on the village’s responsibility as part of the 1995 state law. The 1995 law required resurveying in certain parts of the town every five years; that had not been done since 1995.”The Water Committee decided it needed to learn about land use. If there are any violations of the 1995 law that could impact the aquifer there must be an annual report done by the village. The 1995 law set up a protection zone with separate zones with specific regulations on land use to prevent pollution from affecting the well head. Zone one, where the well head is located, is village-owned. Zones two and three have strict regulations and prohibitions. The Water Committee sent a survey to each of 314 parcel owners. The first mailing received a 40 percent return. The Village Board did a second mailing.“By the time we got done using aerial photography from the Dutchess County parcel access system we were able to fill in the blanks,” Herzog said. “When we got done at the end of November we had a 96 percent response rate. After the survey was done we compiled a report and it will be sent off to the New York State Department of Health (DOH).”The committee plans to send letters to people in zones two and three thanking them for their participation, along with a link to the report online. All village residents will have access to the results once they are posted on the village’s website. In the future the Water Committee would like to educate the parcel owners in zones two and three about their responsibilities and send them a copy of what is in the 1995 law. The committee also discussed having a table at Community Day, to reach out and let people know the rules and regulations in the water-source areas.Herzog concluded his presentation by suggesting both the Town and Village boards figure out how inspections be carried out if a parcel is in violation. The current regulations specify what activities are prohibited in zones one, two and three and gives the village authority to survey and inspect those properties. While all the land in the three zones is considered town property, the village retains authority to inspect them. “It would be a good idea for there to be a bilateral group of village members and town members to sit down and talk about a protocol about how inspection would happen if it has to happen,” said Herzog. “An intermunicipal agreement on aquifer protection is important as time goes on. Since the town is revising their comprehensive plan it is an excellent time to review the town’s aquifer overlay ordinance, which hasn’t been done since 1990, and ensure safe drinking water for all the town residents.”The Water Committee’s data collection saved the village $10,000 in special service fees, said Herzog. It also helped in the quest to ensure village and town residents will have quality drinking water in the future.

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