While the city waits for DEP approval and construction of the pipeline, Hansen has turned to the Town of Ulster and Port Ewen for help. Both communities maintain their own aquifer-fed water systems which could be directed into the city and take pressure off of the Cooper Lake system. Currently the city supplies water to six of the Town of Ulster’s seven water districts, but the town maintains its own water treatment facility. By reversing the flow, Hansen said, the city could draw about a million gallons a day, roughly a quarter of the city’s total need, until the Ashokan connection was complete. Port Ewen, meanwhile, could provide another few hundred thousand gallons per day. Critically, Hansen said, the city would rely on voluntary conservation efforts by city residents to help reduce total consumption until the drought is over. According to Hansen, since the drought emergency was declared, the city’s total water consumption declined from an average of 3.8 million gallons per day to about 3.5 million.
“It’s as simple people turning off the water while their brushing their teeth, or not leaving the faucet running when you do the dishes,” said Hansen. “I don’t know what people are doing, but it’s working.”