Lake Washington in Newburgh, NY.
Finally, a new water treatment facility has been installed to clean up the PFOS, hopefully allowing the City of Newburgh to resume using Lake Washington as their primary water source.
DEC: Newburgh can draw water from Washington Lake by Feb.
CITY OF NEWBURGH – A new water treatment system designed to filter out the toxic chemical that shut down Newburgh’s primary water supply nearly two years ago will allow the city to resume drawing water from the lake by the end of this month or early February, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Weeks of testing in conjunction with the state Department of Health will take place before the multimillion-dollar, state-funded system will be ready to treat water from Washington Lake, DEC Deputy Commissioner for Remediation Martin Brand told the City Council and residents on Monday.
The lake has sat unused since May 2016, when the city announced its closure due to high levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS.
Associated with cancers, ulcerative colitis, birth defects and other health problems, the chemical’s presence in the lake is being blamed on the use of firefighting foams at Stewart Air National Guard Base.
“We’re very confident that this system will treat the contamination,” Brand said.
“We won’t turn on the system until we’re satisfied that everything is working appropriately.”
Newburgh’s roughly 28,000 residents and the city’s businesses have been drinking, cooking and bathing with water from New York City’s Catskill Aqueduct since June 7, 2016, a month after a health and environmental crisis emerged following the announcement over the lake’s PFOS levels.
Newburgh also stopped diverting water from Silver Stream to the lake.
State investigators determined that PFOS entered the lake through the stream, which receives wastewater from a retention basin used by Stewart Air Base.
Construction of the new system started in September 2016.
Its foundation is an array of 18 tanks standing 27 feet high. Each is filled with 40,000 pounds of granular carbon that will filter water before it is distributed to residences and businesses.
It is a larger version of the granular carbon system installed in the Village of Hoosick Falls, a Rensselaer County municipality whose public water supply was contaminated with PFOA, which belongs to the same family of chemicals as PFOS.
Counting anticipated costs for long-term operation and maintenance, the system will make up most of an estimated $50 million the state expects to spend in response to contamination from the air base, Brand said.
“This system can handle anything that comes down that watershed and that is up in the lake,” he said.
On Sunday, Newburgh announced that the system had been activated and was processing water the city is getting from the Catskill Aqueduct.
Before the switch to Washington Lake, the state and Newburgh’s water department will process samples of the lake’s water to test the system’s ability to reduce PFOS levels to “non-detect” levels, said Brad Hutton, DOH’s deputy commissioner for public health.
Dozens of samples will be taken, and their results released to the public, he said.
“This is all about demonstrating that the system is working,” he said.