Immediate Release

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 

For Information Contact


Picente Declares Water Emergency


Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. today declared a water emergency in Oneida County due to the extremely low water levels at Hinckley Reservoir.

“At the rate the water level is dropping, based on the latest information I have received from the Oneida County Health Department, Mohawk Valley Water Authority and New York State Health Department, we could be in a crisis situation within a week to 10 days,” Picente said. “Conservation now is of the utmost importance. That is why I am declaring this local emergency and calling for conservation under the Mohawk Valley Water Authority’s existing emergency plan.”

Picente said that he is also continuing to work with state officials to reduce the amount of water flowing out of Hinckley for use by the New York State Canal Corp. “The vast majority of water at Hinckley is used to meet the needs of the Canal,” Picente said. “In this very dry season, and in this extreme circumstance, I am trying to work with Governor Spitzer, our state legislators, the New York State Canal Corp., New York State Dept. of Health and the New York State Emergency Management Office to have the water flows for canal use reduced even more so that there is water for the more than 130,000 customers of the Mohawk Valley Water Authority (MVWA).”

Picente said that talks with state officials have been ongoing for several days and will continue. “We have made clear to them the seriousness of this issue, but there has not yet been a commitment to take the kind of action needed to avoid this declaration of emergency,” Picente said. “In good conscience, I could not allow the daily decline at the level of Hinckley to continue without alerting the people of Oneida County to the extreme need for conservation on their part.”

Picente said the emergency is in effect for the next five days. Daily monitoring of water levels by Water Authority and Oneida County Health Department staff will determine whether the emergency continues for additional five-day periods. Picente added that continued unchecked declines could bring the level of Hinckley below the level considered necessary for continued safe use of the reservoir’s water.

“This serious situation calls for the cooperation of everyone and we will continue dialogue with all involved agencies to reach a solution,” Picente said. “As we continue to work with the state for a resolution of the issue about water flows, I urge everyone to practice water conservation and comply with the use restriction.”

Picente said the following water conservation measures are to be considered mandatory during this water emergency period and shall remain in effect until the state of emergency is lifted. Violations of these restrictions will be investigated and documented by MVWA employees. Any such violations may result in temporary suspension of water service after one warning.

  • Homeowners, landlords, and commercially property owners should immediately inspect interior plumbing systems for leaking faucets, toilets, or other valves and to verify proper operation and make repairs as necessary.
  • Non-commercial vehicle washing is prohibited.
  • Commercial vehicle washing operations may continue only if 50% of the water used is re-circulated.
  • Washing of streets, sidewalks, driveways, or building exteriors is prohibited.
  • Supplemental flows for ornamental use, such as fountains, artificial waterfalls, reflecting pools or ponds should be discontinued.
  • Irrigation use will be permitted as follows:

o     Lawns, shrubs, flower or vegetable gardens, or golf course greens may be watered using a hose or sprinkler system only between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 pm.

o      Individual plants may be watered at any time using a hand-held container.

o     Commercial nurseries, farms, or others engaged in the business of growing or selling plants, fruits, or vegetables may use water for irrigation if daily use is reduced by 15% below normal usage. 

Specific questions about water conservation measures should be directed to the MVWA Customer Service Department at 315-792-0301.