NEW WINDSOR – Town officials in New Windsor announced on Friday that they are going to shut down the less than year old Butterhill wells out of an abundance of caution.
They have been found to contain trace amounts of PFOS and PFOA, the same chemicals that forced the closure of the City of Newburgh’s Washington Lake reservoir in New Windsor three years ago.
The levels in the New Windsor wells are far less than the potential danger level, town officials and professional consultants said Friday.
Town environmental attorney Kimberlea Rae the town is taking a “prudent” course of action by shutting down the wells.
“Our water is below New York State’s level,” Rea said. “It’s well below EPA’s level but the supervisor and town board have made what I believe to be a very prudent decision to take decisive action before anything worsens and to provide the town with a water supply that is demonstrably safe to drink.”
The town’s other well system, was shut down earlier when it was found to have somewhat higher levels of the chemicals and the state installed a carbon filtration system.
The town anticipates reconnecting to the Catskill Aqueduct within a couple of weeks and taking Butterhill off-line.
Rae also said the town is considering filing its own lawsuit against the potentially responsible parties. Since the chemical has traveled through streams from the Stewart Air National Guard Base, where firefighting foam containing the contaminant originated, the town will consider legal action, said Rae.
The City of Newburgh has already filed action against the state as owner of the airport, the Department of Defense, the Port Authority, which operates the facility, and manufacturers of the chemicals.
Town Supervisor George Green said the town is “operating under extreme exigent circumstances” and wants to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
The cost of potentially installing a carbon filtration system and purchasing water from the aqueduct are not the concerns right now, officials said. Town Board Member Andrew Regenbaum said the cost to remediate the problem is not the issue; they want to protect the safety of town residents.
Green emphasized the state has been extremely cooperative with regard to the water issue and is working with the town to resolve it.
Freshman Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R, New Windsor), is concerned about the situation.
“To have public and private water sources in expanding areas fall into contamination or threat of contamination must be of the highest priority for officials at every level.”