Oneonta Water Supply History Tour – August 30, 2022

Report by Art Palmer.  This trip was designed to illustrate where much of the city’s water comes from. Eighteen people met at Neahwa Park, first for a short walk over familiar territory along the Mill Race to the main city water well in Catella Park. We’ve seen it before, but this time we described how its location and capacity were determined in the early 1990s on the basis of measurements by Doc Palmer’s geophysics and hydrology classes at SUCO (State Univ. College at Oneonta). A newer and larger-capacity well is located nearby, but it remains sealed until there is future need. Various types of equipment were described, along with tales of trial and tribulation in finding the ideal well location. The new well has offset the diminishing supply of water from the city reservoirs, which are located along upper East Street. The well water is pumped to the water treatment plant on East Street, and from there it is piped to various holding tanks scattered throughout the northern part of the city to maintain continuous water supplies. The tanks north of Hartwick College are examples (seen on some ADK hikes). A gravimeter for measuring the local gravitational field strength (pull of gravity) was also on display. It provided some of the information used in determining the well locations. We then moved to the lower level of Wilber Park, where an old test well was opened (OK’d by the City Engineer), to show how to measure the depth to the water table, i.e., the level of standing groundwater.

Photos by Janice Downie.

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