New Drinking Water Source Proposed For Village
by Doug La Rocque
April 21, 2021 is a date that will go into the record books of the Village of Hoosick Falls.
It is the day the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced its preliminary choice for a new source of drinking water for the Village. It was nearly six years ago when it was discovered that the Village’s Water supply was contaminated with PFOA, a possible carcinogen to humans, and has been linked to other diseases involving the kidneys, liver, respiratory problems, infectious and neurological complications (especially in children) and Type 2 diabetes.
The DEC’s Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP) includes:
• Developing two new groundwater supply wells. Existing test wells south of Hoosick Falls will be converted to production wells (these are know as the LaCroix and Wysocki wells);
• Retaining one existing village well. This third well is required to provide redundancy in the case of an outage of the primary wells;
• Constructing a water transmission line from the new wells to the village water treatment plant along public rights of way;
• Continued operation of the public water supply treatment plant to remove naturally occurring elements, and ensure disinfection and distribution to meet applicable water supply requirements; and
• Retaining the existing GAC treatment system to ensure removal of ambient organic compounds.
These recommendations follow many years of study with input from the public as well as the Village and the Town of Hoosick. Slightly more than a year ago, DEC came out with five possible solutions, ranging from pumping water in from the Tomhannock Reservoir in Pittstown to doing nothing, other than maintaining the GAC filter system. The DEC has opened a 45 day public comment period, after which it will make its final decision.
As one might expect, reaction to DEC’s proposal was quick. Mayor Rob Allen called it a “big milestone, years in the making.” He also said that making the GAC system a permanent component is a key part of the proposal. While he is reserving further comment until he, the Village Board, its environmental experts and attorneys have had a chance to look it over, he did say “it’s a good day.”
Deputy Mayor Bob Ryan echoed much of Mayor Allen’s sentiments, particularly about the patience the community of Hoosick Falls has shown waiting for this day.
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin sent the following statement to The Eastwick Press: “This is the best option presented to the public to ensure clean water. Dating back to my time as an Assemblyman, I have advocated for a safe, clean source of drinking water and protection of health and quality of life in the areas affected by PFOA. I still believe the best long-term solution is extension of public water to the area and hope that gets more consideration.
We appreciate the state informing us of its decision on this issue. Residents can be assured my administration will continue to be their advocate and work to ensure health and property values are safeguarded in the coming years.”
Village Resident Mike Hickey is the person credited with doing the research and discovering the PFOA contamination. He says “ It’s not a big surprise. I think many of us would have felt more confident with the Tomhannock option but the current system has given consistent non-detect results from our current wells. Moving the wells to the Wysocki/LaCroix location, along with keeping the current filtration system in place, adds another level of safety.
Real estate is selling again and our community has seemed to flourish under Mayor Allen and the current leadership. We have come a long way in six years. Work still needs to be done, but it truly feels like Hoosick is Rising!”
Rensselaer County Legislator Jeff Wysocki, whose land one of the two new production wells will be drilled on, says he believes “it is the best option for all in the community.” The district’s other legislator, Bruce Patire, says “the local wells in my mind would be the best way, along with maintaining the filter system in the village. Yes, it is the best decision after a joint State and DEC prolonged study and I am extremely happy after a very long wait it has come to a logical and truly workable solution.”
The President of the Tri State Area Federal Credit Union, based in Hoosick Falls, is also very pleased with the proposal. Jim Martinez has said before he believes Hoosick Falls should keep control of its own water source (the City of Troy would control that source if the Tomhannock Reservoir had been chosen). He also feels a quality, PFOA free drinking water can help rebuild the Village economically.
Public Comment Period
DEC will be accepting public comments on the PRAP through June 4. Comments can be submitted by mail to Ian Beilby, Project Engineer, NYS DEC, 625 Broadway, Albany NY, 12233-7013, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, DEC is holding a virtual public meeting/presentation on May 13 to provide the public with an opportunity to learn more about the PRAP, ask questions and provide comments.
There will be much more to report on this as the PRAP is dissected. The complete release by DEC is rather lengthy so the The Eastwick Press will put it up on its website in the open viewing section, for those who want to read more.