The Week In Review-The Weekend Ahead



By Edie Johnson

With the ongoing issues of PFAS contamination in our area, it is welcome news that the Town of New Windsor passed a resolution this week formalizing their agreement with the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) to install a GAC Granulated Carbon Filtration System at the Towns’ Butterhill Wells Filtration Plant.  Councilman Andrew Regenbaum, who is the Town Board’s water liaison told the Orange County Post today that the timeline is to “Begin the work ASAP if not yesterday.  The plan is to complete work by October when the Catskills Aqueduct (which is currently supplying residents with water) will be undergoing repairs.  He emphasized that the town is not and will not be using any water from the Butterhills Plant until the GAC is installed and operational.  The plant had tested free of PFAS during  initial testing but measured low levels of contaminants during May.  The concern initiated a speedy change  back to the Aqueduct until the problem can be thoroughly resolved.

Meanwhile with efforts by both Assemblyman Colin Schmitt and Senator James Skoufis at the state level, New York has set new standards for purity.  Standards currently vary all across the United States, where PFAS which has been a component of firefighting foam has found its way into waterways.  New York, which previously set an acceptable limit of 70 parts per trillion has just changed the limit to 10 parts per trillion, and the toxic chemical may no longer be used in firefighting foam in the state, effective December 31, 2019. There may, however, be a residual issue requiring an additional level of manufacturing enforcement since many firefighting foam distributers include “proprietary ingredients” in their product.   The foam is believed to have found its way into area groundwater and streams from a spill and past use in firefighting practices at Stewart AFB.  A recent spill at Stewart was believed to have no PFAS until it was independently tested.  High levels were then found, possibly due to the loophole in ingredient listings.  It is not known where the Butterhill  PFAS came from, but a  Granulated Carbon Filtration system is currently the best technology to filter it out.

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