Schumer wants Defense Department to pay for Newburgh water cleanup if testing proves National Guard is source of contamination


NEWBURGH – US Senator Charles
Schumer wants the Department of Defense to investigate the source of contamination
of Newburgh’s water supply, Washington Lake.
Two chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have been identified in the lake, causing the city to switch over to its Brown’s Pond backup supply.
If those chemicals originate from the New York Air National Guard Base
at nearby Stewart Airport, the senator would want the government to pay
for the cleanup.
Brown’s Pond is rapidly being exhausted and the city will have to switch over to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s reservoir, which will be an expensive proposition. City Manager Michael Ciaravino wants to start the process of drilling wells to draw water from the city’s aquifers.
While the emergency situation continues, the city will remain under a conservation effort, which includes no watering of lawns and flowers and washing of cars. Residents could collect rain water in buckets to water their outdoor flower, Ciaravino said.
In a related issue, it is unclear if Masterson’s Pond, which feeds the lake, has high levels of the dangerous chemicals. While fishing is allowed in the pond, Ciaravino said he will impose a catch-and-release policy for people who fish there until it is determined if the fish are safe to consume.
“As the EPA advisory from August 2014 indicates these contaminants that concern us tremendously gather in the fat of fish,” Ciaravino noted. “As we ingest it, it gathers inside our bodies. To the extent that this water is breathed through the fish’s gills, it’s inside their bodies. We want to make certain that anyone that fishes at Masterson Pond does so on a catch-and-release basis.”
The city manager also announced that the US EPA will provide an independent contractor to conduct an informational meeting in Newburgh in the near future to explain to city residents the water situation and remedies.

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