Skoufis bill on disclosing municipal well use gets final approval

A bill proposed by Sen. James Skoufis in response to concerns over Kiryas Joel’s new well in Cornwall and approved by the Senate in March cleared the Assembly this week and will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for approval or rejection.

The legislation, first introduced last year when Skoufis was an assemblyman and passed only by the Assembly in 2018, would require the state Department of Environmental Conservation to post all information about water usage for the public wells that it permits on its website. The purpose is to make the DEC’s well monitoring reports and other data about municipal water use easily accessible to the public.

“Our constituents deserve transparency and access to clean water, and I strongly urge the Governor to sign this into law,” Skoufis said in a statement on Thursday.

Both the Senate and Assembly passed the bill almost unanimously, with only a single member in each chamber voting “no.” Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, a New Windsor Republican who succeeded Skoufis and co-sponsored the bill in the Assembly, said in a statement after the Assembly passed it on Wednesday that reports on municipal well use are “of paramount importance, and the public has a right to access them in the easiest fashion possible. “

Cornwall, Woodbury and several non-profits had challenged Kiryas Joel’s well permit in court, arguing that pumping up to 612,000 gallons a day could deplete nearby wells and the Woodbury Creek and that the permit provided inadequate protections for neighbors. Kiryas Joel won those cases and began operating its well in the Mountainville section of Cornwall in March 2018.

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