Three reservoirs providing drinking water for Port Jervis, New York, are now 73 percent full, according to the city’s chief water plant operator Scott Decker on Oct. 11.
Following a good amount of rain, the city’s smallest reservoir at the head of the water filtration plant is now full, followed by the Huguenot Brook reservoir at 75 percent full.
The largest reservoir on Sparrowbush Brook, which is four times the size of smallest lake, is 65 percent full.
Over the past 30 days, the city had 8 inches of rain, Decker said.
He estimates future fall rain will raise the water levels to 80 percent, a safe amount for the city to weather through the winter.
Decker works with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration on long-range weather forecasts.
“If we don’t get the rain, then we just hope for heavy snow in the winter. When the snow melts in the springtime, it will fill our reservoirs back up,” Decker told The Epoch Times.
Rainfall and snowmelt are two major water sources for the city. A few connected ponds also supply water but to a much lesser extent, he said.
“Honestly, I’m not a big fan of rain or snow, because of all the things that come with it—it is messy, it is tough. But you learn to respect it over time because that’s where our water comes from,” he said.
This year’s dry season affected a big portion of the Hudson Valley and Western New York, including Port Jervis, whose water levels dropped to below 50 percent in July.
On July 11, the city began asking residents for voluntary water conservation.
Nearby Middletown also recommended conservation as the drought brought its full reservoirs down to 80 percent.
Rockland County, just south of Orange County, declared a stage two water emergency and enacted mandatory restrictions on water use in mid-August.
Following increased fall rain, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently took nearby Sullivan, Delaware, Greene, and Columbia counties off the drought watch list.
However, Orange and Rockland County remain on the list as of Oct. 11.
Port Jervis draws water from three interconnected reservoirs in a 3000-acre watershed, two-thirds of which are owned by the city, according to its 2020 water quality report.
The reservoirs have a combined capacity of 572 million gallons.
In 2020, the city produced a total of 330.5 million gallons, with the highest single-day water distribution at 1.2 million.
About a decade ago, the city had a year-long drought, bringing the reservoir levels down to 30 percent. The city enacted mandatory water restrictions and violators were fined, Decker said.