Beaver Dam Reconstruction Finally Under Way
Future Water Purity Protections Coming
By Edie Johnson
New Windsor/Blooming Grove/Cornwall – The long-awaited reconstruction of the hundred year old dam at Beaver Dam Lake that straddles these towns of New Windsor, Blooming Grove, and Cornwall is well under way. After pressing state officials that the safety of the involved towns and their people would be at risk of serious damage if the crumbling walls gave during storms, and working for years to obtain grant monies to help make it happen, delay after delay continued to frustrate both the lakeside owners and officials. Then followed two years of debate and engineering studies about what the best engineering techniques for reconstruction would be (empty the entire lake or let the level down as necessary). The possibility of putting a temporary measure called a “cofferdam” was briefly considered (plastic inflatable dam that can be adjusted as needed), yet another barrier stopped action when it was discovered that the lake was also affected by the Stewart AFB/Washington Lake PFO issues, and had several significant toxic readings at the North end at some homeowners’ wells. Fishing and swimming were forbidden and the entire planned reconstruction plan had to be reevaluated. People wondered whether reconstruction and moving the water around might exacerbate the movement of toxic sediment? In the end it was decided to empty the lake slowly, and disturb the sediment as little as possible. Recently the shoreline dirt near the dam itself was tested as free from PFOS.
Big News On Future Water Safety
This week the state’s DEC passed a new law, further regulating the amount of PFO’s considered safe.
ALBANY, N.Y. – (December 18, 2018) – “The New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation today announced that the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council has recommended that the Department of Health adopt the nation’s most protective maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA, PFOS, as well as the nation’s first MCL for 1,4-dioxane. Specifically, the Council recommended MCLs of 10 parts per trillion (ppt – that’s parts per trillion) for PFOA, 10 ppt for PFOS, and an MCL of 1 part per billion (ppb) for 1,4-dioxane. All three contaminants have been detected in drinking water systems across the country, yet remain unregulated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for setting regulatory limits under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.” $200 Million was previously announced to provide support and assistance for communities statewide.
Senator-elect James Skoufis commented yesterday:
“I am very encouraged by the Drinking Water Quality Council’s robust recommendations as it is far past time for every public water system in New York State to be properly tested for these hazardous contaminants. The new maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) standards put forth by the council are an important step forward and must be swiftly implemented.
“I also applaud Senator Schumer’s announcement that the federal government will be taking additional steps to address the contamination around the Stewart Air National Guard Base that includes a proposal to install a treatment system at Recreation Pond. This is major, essential step forward for Newburgh and I want to thank our federal representatives for their strong advocacy
Additionally the New York Air National Guard (ANG) is going to begin installing interim remedial measures in the areas around Stewart Air National Guard Base to limit the further discharge of PFOS/PFOA contamination. They have also promised that Beaver Dam Lake will be included in future mediation and monitoring programs. If the tributaries that flow into the lake and surrounding areas are freed from future toxins the lake will be able to refresh with clean, non-toxic water.
Now that the original plan is largely back in place, how far the draining will go will depend largely on what they find as they proceed, but a quick tour around the lake shows areas where the shoreline is already 40-50 ft. from its previous level, and a pungent musky odor permeates some of the shorelines where vegetation has begun to rot because of the diminishing shore. Construction workers are already busy at the dam itself. The smell will soon dissipate with increased frosty weather of January. Depending on weather conditions and the extent of damage uncovered, residents can always hope for a finish ahead of schedule.
As of this week there appeared to be no more water flowing over the top of the dam itself, and pipes had been set to drain additional water. As the water recedes additional areas of concern may be uncovered. Some lake surfaces areas that had been frozen now show free-flowing water because of the surface disturbance.
The full drainage and reconstruction plan is hoped to be completed in 2019 but could take till 2020.