The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced the completion of a study by the companies at the center of the investigation into contaminated water in Hoosick Falls. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports the study examines possible options for a new municipal drinking water source.
The Municipal Water Supply Study was completed by Saint-Gobain and Honeywell. The two companies are at the center of the investigation begun in 2016 into the PFAS contamination of water supplies in the Rensselaer County village.
Currently, the village water system is treated with a filter system installed by the companies as part of their consent agreement with the state.
The report, completed by the companies at the direction of DEC, contains five separate options for consideration, and the public has 30 days to offer input. Sean Mahar is DEC Chief of Staff.
“Our goal here is to here from the community on the options the companies have found and to provide feedback on what they see in this report,” said Mahar.
Options for new water sources outlined in the report include a new groundwater source in the Hoosick River valley, surface water via a transmission line from the Tomhannock Reservoir, owned by the City of Troy, to the village, and a connection to the City of Troy municipal water system.
Another option – maintaining the status quo by using the village’s existing water supply and maintaining the filtration system. A fifth option would involve a remedial action to prevent any future contamination emanating from Saint-Gobain’s McCaffery Street facility from reaching the village’s existing well field.
Hoosick Falls Mayor Rob Allen says he does not have a preference for any plan at this point, and needs more time to review the report.
“What can’t be understated is how important this moment is to our community. It’s a big decision that has to be made. What we eventually will decide is going to set the trajectory for our community and its image for the next 100 years and beyond,” said Allen.
City officials in Troy have spoken in favor of Hoosick Falls utilizing the Tomhannock Reservoir.
Town of Hoosick supervisor Mark Surdam says he’s interested to see what village residents prefer. He said he’s spoken to Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin about the Tomhannock option, saying it presents an opportunity for economic development, too.
“I did tell him one time, you know, I’ll support it if we can put a gas line in in the hole next to it. I’m kind of looking to the economics of it,” said Surdam.
Judith Enck, former EPA Region 2 administrator, warned the public not to settle for the cheapest option.
“For the long-term economic viability of this community, there’s no question in my mind that the water source should be a reservoir, also a surface water source, so it is not at risk of contamination like many groundwater sources are,” said Enck.
Enck prefers a new surface water source because PFAS chemicals spread quickly through groundwater and remain in an environment.
“So while you may have a groundwater source that’s not contaminated today, that may not be the case in five or 10 years,” said Enck.
Sean Mahar at DEC says the agency has no preference of action at this time.
“We have not prejudged any of the options in this report, because as we have told the community all along, our goal was to hear from them before we selected any options or further remediation efforts,” said Mahar.
Mayor Allen wants village residents to read the report for themselves.
“We as a community need to be looking over this and trying to understand what we can and we need to show up with strong numbers and with strong interest at the Wednesday, October 23rd event that’s going to be held at Hoosick Falls Central School at 6 o’clock,” said Allen.
There, DEC will join the town, village, and Hoosick Falls Community Participation Work Group.
Two availability sessions with DEC will also be held that day at the school at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
DEC will accept comments on the report until November 18th.
Comments on the report can be emailed to:
Or sent by mail to:
DEC Project Engineer, Ian Beilby, P.E., Chief, Section C, Remedial Bureau D, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233.