City’s Water Woes Continue… Residents Express Concerns

XX Water
A forum was held at Mount Saint Mary College on June 20 to update city residents about the status of contamination in Newburgh’s water. (photo by Laura Giner Bair)

By Laura Giner Bair

Many questions still surround the status of the City of Newburgh’s water dilemma after a June 20 forum.

City Manager Michael Ciaravino declared a state of emergency on May 2 after unsafe levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate were found in Silver Stream and Washington Lake, the city’s drinking water supply. City officials took steps to switch to Brown’s Pond, and the state of emergency was lifted the following day.

Monday night’s forum, held at Mount Saint Mary College, was attended by Ciaravino, Mayor Judy Kennedy, and representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the state Department of Health (DOH), and the state  Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Despite the meeting, residents’ fears and concerns continue to linger. Overwhelmingly, the approximately 130-person audience expressed gratitude that Ciaravino declared the state of emergency, and shined a spotlight on the city’s water crisis.

Judith Enck, EPA regional representative, commended Ciaravino for protecting residents from drinking contaminated water. Enck outlined an EPA plan to fix the water problem, provide clean water to city residents, find the contamination source, and rectify the problem.

Newburgh was able to switch its water source to Brown’s Pond on May 2, and to the Catskill Aqueduct on June 7, according to Martin Brand, DEC regional director. A filtration system to eliminate PFOS is expected to be installed by Oct. 2017, Brand said.

Contaminants are now “virtually non-detectable, (at) just two parts per trillion,” Nathan Graber, director of the DOH’s Center for Environmental Health, said. Blood testing for residents to detect if the water contamination impacted their health is also “under discussion,” Graber said.

For the complete story see the Friday, June 24 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

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