WATERSHEDS IN DANGER
CITIES AND TOWNS FIGHT BACK
By Edie Johnson
Newburgh City Manager, Michael Ciaravino, Demands Connection to Catskill Aqueduct “In Perpetuity”. Other towns in area step up protections.
“We cannot, and will not during the shutdown of the Catskills Aqueduct use water from Lake Washington, because of the ongoing inadequate treatment of water from the deteriorating watershed. The new treatment plan has been shown to be inadequate to treat certain PFA’s. We are requesting to be connected to the Catskills Aqueduct in perpetuity and will not use Lake Washington water unless ALL of the matters we have complained about are corrected.” Michael Ciaravino
Effects of toxic contamination from Stewart have traveled far and wide through groundwater and tributaries in the neighboring towns of Cornwall and Blooming Grove. Contamination in Beaver Dam Lake is released into the Moodna Creek, which flows toward Cornwall, where numerous wells both small and large are located, and then on to the Hudson River. We learn “it is all connected”.
Other threats to aquifers and groundwater have residents out to meetings in large numbers and at times protesting loud and clear on the streets. A proposal for housing in Blooming Grove that would require water (both for drinking and sewage processing) for thousands of new residents is being looked at by the Louis Berger Group, one of the foremost environmental and aquifer experts in the world. They are designing additional restrictions to protect the town’s portion of the watershed, and tests that would scientifically measure when the watershed has reached its maximum stress level. So far the town has won every lawsuit it has been threatened with related to overdevelopment.
Meanwhile with a hot and rainy Summer, many smaller lakes and ponds are again threatened with toxic algae blooms. While scientists try to determine safe treatments to get rid of the blooms, environmental groups are pushing for a more holistic review, pointing out that the health of these waterways depends on landscape planning around them, drainage systems in nearby residential and commercial developments, as well as water from upstream. We learn that not everything can be fixed with a new chemical.
Goshen’s citizens have railed against the clear-cutting of land around the developing Legoland Park, which was once again cited for illegal drainage runoff earlier this week.
It has taken some years for both public and officials to learn the ways of the environment. But they are more and more inclined to protest after learning the far-reaching effects of bad planning, sewer and chemical discharges and building practices that threaten the one thing that we know we all depend on……water, and the long-term health effects of some of this toxic water (numerous cancers, low growth rates, damage to thyroid and more).
The City of Newburgh now seeks to require 23 Defendants that have manufactured and sold PFAS, or owned and/or operated the ANG Base and Airport to clean up the PFAS contamination in the City watershed and pay for the City’s continued supply of clean water until the cleanup is completed. The City of Newburgh has been purchasing PFAS free water from the Catskill Aqueduct since May of 2016 with the help of the State of New York (“State”), but this clean water source from the Catskill Aqueduct is scheduled to be shut down for 10 weeks starting in the fall of 2018 by New York City for maintenance. The City plans to provide PFAS free water from Brown’s Pond during the periods that water from the Catskill Aqueduct is unavailable. The suit charges that the Defendants are liable under federal environmental laws, and state laws for negligence, public nuisance, defective designs, and inadequate warnings.
No less than twelve (12) different types of PFAS have been detected in Washington Lake, and will persist indefinitely, threatening the environment and human health across northeastern Orange County. The City is concerned that carbon filtration is only partly effective against short-chained PFA’s and has now asked for the Court to intervene.
The City is concerned that the operation of the GAC is only designed to treat PFOS and PFOA, and does not include a treatment plan for short-chain PFAS. As of today, the State has not developed any standards for PFA’S.
Challenges from the public are ever-increasing as they experience these effects of the land and water we rely on, and as they see many state and federal officials turning a blind eye to it.