Hot, dry summer causing well problems

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By Jay Braman Jr.
The lack of rainfall in the region this year is beginning to take its toll locally, and the owner of a well-drilling company that serves the Catskills reports that some residential water wells are now running dry.

Not much snow over the winter and even less rain during the spring and summer have wreaked havoc in other parts of the United States. Parts of the west coast are on fire, and the mid west suffers from a drought that has actually closed shipping on parts of the Mississippi River and ruined corn and soybean crops across wide areas.

But in the Catskills there is no official drought and even the area’s largest water user, the City of New York, still has a supply within normal limits.

But according to Troy Johnson of the Arkville-based Titan Drilling Corporation, over 20 customers, many in the Shandaken area, that have what Johnson calls “shallow wells,” are seeing them go dry.
Johnson told reporters that where shallow wells have been drilled, Titan can just go in and drill deeper to hit a water source that yields enough gallons per minute to serve a home. In other cases, like when a home is serviced by a spring fed system, Titan is required to drill new wells.
Municipal systems are struggling more than usual also.

Ric Ricciardella, water commissioner for the hamlet of Phoenicia, reports that he has had the hamlet under usage restrictions for a month, and there is no end in sight for that, despite Monday’s deluge.

“We’re at least four or fives inches below the normal water level for this time of year,” he said Tuesday.

Ricciardella said that about two inches of rain fell Monday, but most of that ran off into the Ashokan Reservoir.

According to Mercedes Padilla, spokesperson for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the city’s water supply is doing fine despite the wider shore lines seen in places like the lower Ashokan Reservoir basin, where water is not only rushing over the spillway but remains hundreds of ears away from that concrete drain.

“System wide, our current storage is 83.7 percent compared to a normal level of 88.1 percent for this time of year,” Padilla said. “We monitor reservoir levels and precipitation amounts and forecasts on a daily basis. Ashokan Reservoir storage is 83.1 percent, right in line with overall system storage.”

The Pepacton Reservoir is currently at 82.3 percent of capacity.