CURRENT WATER SOURCE
Alternate sources of water have been provided to ensure the City of Newburgh's tap water is running free of PFAS in the short term. Currently, the City is on the Catskill Aqueduct, New York City's clean and protected water supply, between January 30 and Oct 5, 2020 (date subject to change). At that time, the aqueduct will be shut off for 10 weeks to allow the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to inspect and repair its infrastructure. For that 10 week duration, the City will return to Brown's Pond, (a 0.3 square mile backup reservoir). These are temporary sources. The City of Newburgh is currently without an adequate, guaranteed source of clean water for its future. Neither New York State nor the Department of Defense, (the polluter), have committed to supplying Newburgh with clean water for the time span it will take to fully remediate our watershed and return to our original source of drinking water: Lake Washington. Remediation will most likely take decades, so a long-term solution is needed.
Catskill Aqueduct - Our LONG-TERM WATER SOURCE?
The Catskill Aqueduct is part of NYC's drinking water supply system—one of the most extensive and well-protected municipal water systems in the world—with three major aqueduct-and-reservoir networks and over 130,000 acres of conserved land. However, this system is 100+ years old in some parts and in sore need of repair.
"The Croton, Catskill and Delaware watersheds deliver approximately 1.4 billion gallons of pristine, unfiltered drinking water each day from 19 upstate reservoirs to more than nine million people living in New York City, Westchester, Putnam, Orange and Ulster Counties. The 6,000-mile network of subterranean aqueducts carrying the water are in various states of disrepair and threaten the City's supply of fresh water."
Intermittently between 2018-2020, the Catskill Aqueduct is undergoing a $158 million maintenance project to repair leaks, replace old valves, remove biofilm accumulation and undergo other mechanical and structural upgrades. Once the Aqueduct has been upgraded, we hope that it can remain as the City of Newburgh's long-term supply. The NYC water system is overseen by NYC's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as well as their Water Board and Municipal Water Finance Authority.
NEW YORK STATE ADOPTS THE MOST PROTECTIVE MAXIMUM CONTAMINANT LEVELS (MCLS) OF PFAS IN THE NATION
In the absence of EPA leadership, states have responded by setting their own interim safety standards regarding PFAS toxicity. On December 18, 2018, the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council (NYSDWQC) recommended the most protective standard or MCL in the nation of 10 ppt for each of the most prominent PFAS: PFOS and PFOA. As of July 9, 2019—under pressure from environmental and health organizations—Governor Cuomo announced the Department of Health's adoption of 10 ppt for each of PFOS and PFOA, as well as 1 ppb of 1,4-dioxane. The NYSDWQC is working on a recommendation for a combined PFAS MCL.
"We're proposing the most protective levels in the nation for three emerging contaminants to ensure we are regularly testing and fixing water systems before they ever rise to a public health risk in any part of the state. New York State will continue to lead in the absence of federal action by ensuring all residents have access to clean drinking water and by investing in critical projects to assist municipalities in treating these emerging contaminants." — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
A CALL TO REGULATE THE ENTIRE FAMILY OF PFAS CHEMICALS TO LOWEST LEVELS FOR TRUE PROTECTION OF PUBLIC HEALTH
In response to the Governor's announcement, Maureen Cunningham, Senior Director for Clean Water at Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY) states:
“This long-awaited first step puts New York on a path to cleaner drinking water. Establishing Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane will require all public water systems in New York to test for these chemicals and take action when elevated levels of contamination are discovered. However, recent science shows that there is likely no safe level of these chemicals, and the state MCLs must reflect this. Environmental Advocates will continue to urge the Department of Health to bring their MCLs in line with the most recent science during the public commenting period.” — Maureen Cunningham, Senior Director for Clean Water at EANY
According to EarthJustice, PFAS are a family of approximately 5,000 man-made organic chemicals that we come in contact with primarily through our drinking water. Leading government scientists have acknowledged PFAS cannot be regulated individually.