Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, State Senator Michelle Hinchey and Assemblymember Kevin Cahill to hear from customers of Hudson Valley Water Company on Thursday, June 23rd, from 5:30-7:30pm at the Woodstock Elementary School
Testimony collected at the public hearing will be provided to the Secretary of the Public Service Commission and the Ulster County Department of Health
KINGSTON, N.Y. - Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, State Senator Michelle Hinchey and Assemblymember Kevin Cahill announced today that they will be holding a public hearing to collect testimony from customers of the Hudson Valley Water Company, which serves five private water systems in Ulster County: Pine Hill, West Hurley, Boiceville, Rosendale and Mount Marion. The hearing will take place on Thursday, June 23rd, at 5:30pm at the Woodstock Elementary School. Testimony collected will be provided to the Department of Public Service (DPS) investigation and to the Ulster County Department of Health who will review and address it with the New York State Department of Health.
“Ulster County residents have a right to clean drinking water and responsive customer service, and we cannot allow Hudson Valley Water Company to delay any longer on delivering essential needs. Once again, as Ulster County Executive, I will use my office to advocate on behalf of our residents and to ensure that everyone impacted is heard,” Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said. “I want to thank our partners Senator Hinchey and Assemblymember Cahill for their work to find better solutions at the state level.”
“Access to clean water is a fundamental right, and yet for years, our community members–especially West Hurley residents–have suffered under the thumb of Hudson Valley Water Company, which has effectively abdicated its role to provide families with reliable water and the level of customer service they deserve,” Senator Michelle Hinchey said. “I’m proud to partner with County Executive Ryan and Assemblymember Cahill on a public hearing that will elevate the voices of our neighbors who have been saddled with indefensible water service issues. While I’m fighting in the State Legislature to advance my bill, The Small Water Utility Transparency Act, this hearing is a profoundly important step we can take right now to collect residents’ testimonies and ensure their experiences are brought to DPS for investigation.”
"To ensure the Public Service Commission has the full picture of customer experience to examine as part of the ordered compliance plan, our office has joined with County Executive Ryan and Senator Hinchey to ensure consumer voices are heard and appropriate measures are taken to deliver reliable service," said Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess).
"I strongly encourage all residents impacted by the privately-owned Hudson Valley Water company to attend and give testimony,” Ulster County Majority Leader and Legislator Jonathan Heppner (Hurley, Woodstock) said. “People have a right to clean drinking water. It's critical to have your voices heard so we can work together to help amplify these issues to the New York State Public Service Commission and the Ulster County Department of Health."
“I’m very pleased that a public hearing is in the works for local citizens to speak out and express their concerns regarding Hudson Valley Water Companies, Inc., and their business practices. Sadly, the company has a long history of poor customer service, shoddy maintenance, and health-related issues surrounding possible contamination in water districts owned by this privately-held company. This is particularly true in West Hurley,” Ulster County Legislator Eric Stewart said. “Access to clean water should be viewed not only as a necessity but as a right to the citizens of this state. If the private sector is not up to that task, then government needs to intervene.”
"It is gratifying to know that the residents who receive their water from Hudson Valley Water Company will have an opportunity to share their stories with their elected representatives,” Town of Hurley Supervisor Melinda McKnight said. “Water is most important to all life and it is my hope that hearing their stories will move those responsible for regulating this water company to meaningful action."
“Nearly two years after the Department of Public Service released the findings of their probe and ordered a compliance plan with 49 corrective fixes, HVWC's customers are still concerned that the water company is failing to provide safe and adequate water service in West Hurley,” said Laurie Wheelock, Deputy Executive Director of the Public Utility Law Project of New York. “We applaud County Executive Ryan, Assemblymember Cahill and Senator Hinchey for their leadership in convening this public forum. The stories and testimonies to be collected will help regulators decide if the Company is in adherence to the Commission’s 2020 order, and if not, which further corrective action needs to be ordered.”
The public hearing to be held on June 23rd is the outcome of continuing concerns and perceived discrepancies in compliance with DPS recommendations. In 2019, West Hurley reached out to Assemblymember Cahill’s office, prompting a DPS investigation which concluded in October 2020. The investigation produced a staff report including 49 recommendations, which were further ordered by the Commissioner.
Having participated in the PSC public hearing on the matter, Senator Hinchey, in her first term, authored several pieces of legislation to place stricter oversight on small private water companies, including The Small Water Utility Transparency Act, which would increase the fine structure on a water company found in violation of its duties and provide the Public Service Commission, Department of Environmental Conservation, and NYS Comptroller’s Office with greater auditing authority to ensure that companies are meeting the health, safety and affordability needs of customers.
Constituents may sign up to speak at the June 23rd public hearing beginning at 5pm at the Woodstock Elementary School. Speaking is on a first come, first served basis.
For more information on the public hearing, visit the Facebook event, or call the Office of Ulster County Executive Ryan at 845-340-3800, the Office of Senator Hinchey at 845-331-3810, and/or the Office of Assemblymember Cahill at 845-338-9610.