Rain drenches Phoenicia, hamlet hit with 7+ inches

By Jay Braman Jr.
Last week Tuesday’s torrential downpour hit the entire region, but it was Phoenicia that got the lion’s share of rainfall with no less than seven and-a-half inches recorded.
A state of emergency was declared in the Town of Shandaken on September 18, where flooding did cause some damage.

One spot that got hurt badly was a place that, ironically, was scheduled for flood mitigation work last week.

On High Street, alongside the Esopus Creek, sits a well and pump house that are a backup system for the Phoenicia water supply. During Tropical Storm Irene last year, floodwaters cut back the steam bank, putting the well itself at risk.

Last week’s high water made it worse. The bank has now eroded all the way over the well casing, which is now exposed to the current.

Phoenicia Water Commissioner Ric Ricciardella said Monday that he worries the water district might be left holding the bag. FEMA, he said, has given the district $150,000 to stabilize the stream bank and protect the well and adjoining pump house after damage to the property during Irene. That work was to be done last week, but the rainstorm hit first.

Cost questions
Now that even more damage has occurred it remains unclear what the repair costs will be because the Ulster County Health Department must make a determination how much of the stream bank needs to be replaced in order for the well to remain part of the water supply.

The well is drilled down 18 feet. Now approximately 11 feet of the steel casing has been unearthed.
Ricciardella notes that the well is the back-up system for the water district and was last used about four years ago.

In other news, it appears that the dredging of the Stony Clove stream last fall kept the Phoenicia business district from being flooded last week. Main Street has been plagued by floods for the past few years because creek gravel had accumulated underneath the bridge on Route 214 at the west end of the business district. With less room for water, local officials convinced the State Department of Environmental Conservation to allow 600 feet of streambed to be dredged.