Schumer asks EPA to resolve Newburgh water crisis

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Questions remain over pollution levels in Washington Lake, which has been
the city’s main water supply

NEWBURGH – As the issues of whether Newburgh’s Washington Lake water supply is contaminated enough to hurt people, where the chemicals are coming from and how do you stop them from entering the lake continue to remain unclear, US Senator Charles Schumer is asking the federal EPA to become actively involved in the situation.          
State and federal agencies are working to resolve the problem, but Schumer told Mid-Hudson News on Wednesday he would like the federal environmental agency to take an active role.
“I have asked the EPA to come in and help them clean up their water, to give them advice and then there are federal programs that can help,” he said on Wednesday.
As a precaution for now, the city is using its backup resource, Brown’s Pond for water, but once that supply is depleted, it will have to purchase water from the New York City aqueduct, but that could cost over $200,000 per month.
There is a long-term alternative, City Manager Michael Ciaravino said.  That would be for the city to drill wells into the aquifers as a source of water for its residents.
Ciaravino also released a letter he sent to regional EPA Administrator Judith Enck on May 2 asking for EPA to issue its revised health advisory for the chemical PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), one of the two found in the lake. At present, studies say the lake has 140 to 180 parts per trillion of PFOS while the danger threshold is 200 ppt. But, he said the Dutch government has set a permissible threshold of 65 ppt.
Ciaravino said it is believed that the EPA will issue a new health advisory with new PFOS levels below 200 ppt.  For now, he said the city “must take emergency action to reduce, or, if possible, to eliminate this contamination from our water system.” That comes at a time when he said recent testing says a potential source of the chemicals is discharging over 700 ppt.