NEWBURGH — A new $2.4 million filtration system designed to prevent further contamination of the City of Newburgh’s former primary drinking water source is expected to be up and running by the end of this summer, according to a news release Wednesday from Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an agency under the Department of Defense, will use the money to install the filtration system at Recreation Pond. The pond is located on New York Stewart International Airport property and is used as a retention basin to catch runoff from the Stewart Air National Guard Base. Water in Recreation Pond discharges into Silver Stream and flows into Washington Lake during storms.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ new filtration system will use granulated activated carbon and resin technology to filter perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid from Recreation Pond outflows.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health worked together to install and test a $22 million state-funded filtration system at Washington Lake designed to filter PFOS and related chemicals. Construction for that project began in September 2016, shortly after the contamination was discovered.
An exact timeline for the Army Corps of Engineers’ project at Recreation Pond has not been released.
“DEC eagerly awaits further details and a timeline for implementation of this much-needed filtration system that will begin the process of restoring this watershed and reducing contamination levels in Lake Washington,” according to a statement from the DEC on Wednesday.
The DEC also has not received any specifics on the engineering plans for the federal project and, therefore, does not know how the new system will affect current efforts to clean up Washington Lake.
The City of Newburgh stopped using Washington Lake as a drinking water source in May 2016 after finding levels of PFOS in the water that were twice as high as the advisory limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A month later, the city began drawing its water from the Catskill Aqueduct and continues to do so.
Interim City Manager Joe Donat said Wednesday that the city does not have any current plans to begin using Washington Lake again, but added that the city will “remain vigilant in our efforts to remediate the original source and continue to provide residents with healthy and clean water.”
Studies conducted in 2016 determined Newburgh’s water supply was contaminated by PFOS runoff from firefighting foam used at the Stewart Air National Guard Base. Since then, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Maloney and DEC officials have criticized and pressed the DoD to accelerate efforts to remove the toxic chemicals from Newburgh’s water sources.
“At long last, after years of pushing and prodding, DoD is finally ponying up. …” Schumer said in a statement Wednesday. “No resident of Newburgh should have to worry that they will be harmed by the water they drink, nor should contaminated water continue flowing off base over two years since its discovery. With federal funding now allocated to stanch the further spread of this toxic water, we are one major step closer to making that a reality.”