Conservation is key to Phoenicia's water system in the extreme cold

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Phoenicia Water District is not getting the breaks it needs to be free of winter worries. Bone chilling temperatures continue to shorten the water supply for the small hamlet, and the winter’s influx of skiers in search of hot food and good cheer taxes the system even more.
But Water Commissioner Ric Ricciardella said this week that with some conservation measures, the district can at least function with the primary water supply and not need to switch to the back up supply, which comes with a mandatory boil-water order from the Ulster County Health Department.
Ricciardella said that on Monday work crews succeeded in increasing the flow from the springs that service the main reservoirs so, so far, the district is not using the back up supply like it had been doing two weeks ago when ice began to choke those springs dry.

Not getting any warmer
But with very low temperatures projected for the next few days, Ricciardella fears returning to that back up supply and along with it the headaches and hassles of having to boil water for cooking and drinking.
That is why he has issued a conserve water alert, he said Monday.
Ricciardella is demanding that all unnecessary water usage halt until further notice. He said that some users have even been washing their cars.
His primary concern is for the upcoming holiday weekend, when Phoenicia’s food and lodging industry will be in full gear.

Water demands
Along with such prosperity comes massive water usage, and if those reservoirs drop down too low the district will then need to turn on what is known as the High Street Well, a water source that is invaded by surface water due to damage from Hurricane Irene. The County Health Department has deemed that water unfit for consumption unless boiled.
Ricciardella urged residents with further questions to call the water plant at 688-5172.