Campaigns & Cases > Safeguard Drinking Water > Newburgh Drinking Water Crisis

Newburgh Drinking Water Crisis


Photo: Daniel Case via CC


The City of Newburgh is facing a drinking water crisis after toxic chemicals known as PFAS PFOS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) were found to have contaminated its primary reservoir, Lake Washington, in May 2016.

New York State has since declared the Stewart Air National Guard Base, as the major source of the contamination, a state Superfund site. Alternate sources of water have been provided to ensure tap water is running free of PFAS in the short term.

Riverkeeper has been working with the city, community groups and other partners to advance three overarching goals: remediation of PFAS sources; establishment of drinking water source protection and restoration programs for the city’s reservoirs; and response to health concerns. Riverkeeper is also seeking to ensure that the lessons learned from Newburgh’s crisis result in better protections for public drinking water supplies statewide.

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Newburgh Community Outreach Toolkit for Drinking Water

The Newburgh Community Outreach Toolkit for Drinking Water is a project of Riverkeeper made possible by the generous support of the Arnow Family Fund.

Launched in 2021 and led by Jennifer Rawlison with support from language liaisons Gabby Vasquez and Harvel Brown, the City of Newburgh residents created materials that could explain the Newburgh drinking water crisis in plain language and then translated in common languages in the community. The effort is a step to bridge the gap between local, county, state and federal government and the community members impacted in the City/Town of Newburgh and Town of New Windsor.

Riverkeeper’s goals are to:

  • Increase the number of engaged local residents in the Browns Pond and Washington Lake watershed by connecting residents to their drinking water reservoirs;
  • Develop a community toolkit and powerpoint presentations that include a fact sheet, talking points, a timeline/history and educational/action items in common community languages about the Newburgh drinking water crisis;

Objectives are to:

  • Develop closer connections to new and old community partners and their constituents, schools, neighborhood groups and service organizations;
  • Build awareness and interest of new and diverse community members and identify local solutions/actions that can improve Washington Lake and Browns Pond drinking water sources.


  • Drinking Source Water Protection

  • Superfund Investigation and Cleanup

  • News about Newburgh’s Drinking Water

  • Other Water Issues in Newburgh

  • Community Partners

  • PFOS Contamination in Fish

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