Newburgh will need financial help paying for water if city taps into aqueduct

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NEWBURGH – Now that Newburgh’s main water supply, Washington Lake, has been shut down because of the continued presence of the chemicals PFOS and PFOA, the city has switched over to its Brown’s Pond for water. That has not shown any contamination. If that source runs low, the city will have to tap into the New York City-owned Catskill Aqueduct and take a big financial hit.
The city council learned Thursday night that should Newburgh exceed 3.5 million gallons per day, it would owe the New York City DEP $233,382 per month, a figure that startled Mayor Judy Kennedy.
“It is quite clear that we have to stay under 3.5 million gallons per day. That is where the water restrictions really come in,” Kennedy said.
If the city stays under 3.5 million gallons per day, the rate for aqueduct water would be $1,728 per every one million gallons. Once it would go over that, it would cost $5,093.
As far as the chemicals, city officials said the levels have been the same for the last couple of years, at between 140 and 180 parts per trillion while the danger level is 200 parts per trillion. The state is conducting new tests right now and results have not been finalized, but City Manager Michael Ciaravino is keeping a watchful eye.
“The one site that was tested that is of greatest concern to me and potentially disturbing to me is a site quite a distance away from Lake Washington that we were told verbally for the PFOS at a value of 5,900 parts per trillion,” Ciaravino told council members.  “That is obviously well in excess of the 200 parts per trillion threshold.”
State, federal, Orange County and city officials are jointly investigating the problem and the source of the contamination. Those chemicals are typically used in aircraft fire suppression and it was mentioned for the first time Thursday evening that the contamination may be coming from the airport. The National Guard provides the crash, fire and rescue functions for both the military and civilian sides of the airport.
Mayor Kennedy and some members of the council were critical of Ciaravino for declaring a state of emergency last Monday without consulting with them first. He responded that he had no regrets about issuing the emergency declaration, but conceded that he should have advised them first.