News > News > Safeguard Drinking Water > Report calls for enhanced drinking water protections for 100,000 people who rely on Hudson River

Report calls for enhanced drinking water protections for 100,000 people who rely on Hudson River

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2018

Contact:
Leah Rae, Media Specialist, Riverkeeper, 914-715-6821, lrae@riverkeeper.org

Analysis is first to use ‘Scorecard’ developed by Riverkeeper

7 shoreline communities work together on shared goal to protect
drinking water supply

POUGHKEEPSIE — A new report identifies key actions needed to protect water quality in a critical area of the Hudson River – the drinking water source for seven communities and 100,000 people.

Among the recommended steps are a new Intermunicipal Council; updated surveys of watershed lands and pollution sources, and an assessment of the risk posed by a potential crude oil spill in the Hudson.

The report was authored by the Center for Watershed Protection and commissioned by Riverkeeper with funding from the Park Foundation. It was developed in collaboration with communities that rely on the Hudson River for drinking water: the City and Town of Poughkeepsie; the Village and Town of Rhinebeck; the Towns of Esopus, Hyde Park and Lloyd; and the Dutchess County Water & Wastewater Authority.

The report is the first to use Riverkeeper’s new “Drinking Source Water Protection Scorecard” to develop recommendations. The scorecard is a self-assessment tool, freely available at riverkeeper.org, that helps communities sort through the complex layers of policies, programs and incentives that can be used to protect “source waters” – the streams that feed into drinking water supplies.

Riverkeeper developed the Scorecard after analyzing the failure to adequately protect the City of Newburgh’s public drinking water supply, resulting in a contamination crisis and the discovery of toxic PFOS in the water supply.

“Half of New York State’s residents rely on New York City’s well-protected drinking water supply, but protections are much less rigorous for public drinking water supplies for the rest of the state,” Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program Director, said. “We hope the Scorecard helps every community jump-start their protection of source waters and set the state on a better course – ensuring that natural filtration provided by forests and wetlands are in place wherever possible, and that pollution sources from communities and farms are minimized, treated or eliminated.”

Key findings and recommendations of the report:

  • Investments to improve drinking water quality have focused more on costly upgrades to treatment facilities, rather than improvements in water quality in the Hudson River. For example, the Poughkeepsie plant recently completed $18 million in upgrades, and the Town of Lloyd facility has identified the need for a $7.5 million project.
  • Updates are needed to state Source Water Assessments, which are required under the Safe Drinking Water Act to identify potential threats to public drinking water supplies from pollution sources such as sewage treatment plants and hazardous waste sites. The assessments are seldom used, over 12 years old, and rely on 25-year-old data. An update for the seven mid-Hudson communities should include the risk of crude oil spills from commercial traffic on the Hudson. In the event of a spill, water reserves would run out in as little as 12 hours.
  • Watershed-based management plans are needed for tributaries of the Hudson, and an intermunicipal council should be formed to manage the development and implementation of a plan to protect drinking water at its source. While there are active water quality monitoring and watershed protection efforts in the Hudson and its tributaries, these programs do not focus on protecting water quality for drinking water sources.

Collaborative efforts like these are expected to make the seven municipalities more competitive for grants and other support associated with New York’s historic $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act, which will provide multi-year funding for relevant projects, including $1 billion for clean water infrastructure and over $100 million for protecting drinking water at its source. Riverkeeper is an invited member of an advisory committee to assist New York State in developing new programs aimed at protecting public drinking water supplies.

Riverkeeper was joined by representatives from the municipalities involved to release the report on February 22 at the Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Plant.

Few people are even aware that the Hudson River is a source of drinking water. Five intakes along the mid-Hudson supply the seven shoreline communities with drinking water. The area has been a pioneer on drinking water quality before: The nation’s first drinking water treatment plant was built in Poughkeepsie in 1872.

Robert Rolison, Mayor, City of Poughkeepsie said: “Today more than ever we need collaboration at the local level. Drinking water is our most precious commodity and Riverkeeper is tireless in its important mission of protection and education. The Scorecard and its recommendations serve as a roadmap for all our communities when it comes to our water supply and it is wonderful to see such consensus amongst us.”

Jon Jay Baisley, Supervisor, Town of Poughkeepsie, said: “The Town of Poughkeepsie takes the protection of our drinking water as a top priority. The formation of this council will give us a stronger voice when addressing water quality issues in the future.”

Emily Svenson, Deputy Supervisor, Town of Hyde Park, said: “The Hyde Park Town Board reviewed the Scorecard report and was pleased that the report suggests specific actions to protect our drinking water supply. The Board is enthusiastic about partnering with neighboring communities to advance these recommendations.”

Gary Bassett, Mayor, Village of Rhinebeck, said: “The Village of Rhinebeck is proud to be part of the ‘Hudson River Drinking Water Intermunicipal Council’ and committed to protecting and improving the quality of the drinking water from the Hudson River and for the protection of public health.”

Elizabeth Spinzia, Supervisor, Town of Rhinebeck, said: “The information in the Drinking Source Water Protection Scorecard lays out an invaluable step by step plan to enable us to ensure the quality of our future drinking water. Thank you Riverkeeper!”

Shannon Harris, Supervisor, Town of Esopus, said: “For the first time, leaders from the seven municipalities who rely on the Hudson River as their primary drinking water source have been brought together to share best practices and collaborate around the one concern that unites us all – protecting the drinking water for over 100,000 people that is drawn from the Hudson River.”

Deb Caraco, P.E., Senior Water Resources Engineer for the Center for Watershed Protection, said: “The Center for Watershed Protection has been happy to work with the Hudson Riverkeeper and Hudson River Communities. Improving source water quality takes cooperation from diverse partners, including all levels of government, community and watershed groups, and the private sector. We hope that the Scorecard Report helps communities that rely on the Hudson for drinking water continue to build on collaborative efforts to protect and improve drinking water quality in the Hudson River.”

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About Riverkeeper
Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. Since its beginnings more than 50 years ago, Riverkeeper has helped to establish globally recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serves as the model and mentor for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes more than 300 Keeper programs around the globe. Visit us at www.riverkeeper.org and follow us @Riverkeeper.

For more information about Riverkeeper’s Drinking Source Water Protection Scorecard, visit riverkeeper.org/water-quality/drinking-source-water-protection.

 

COMMUNITIES SERVED BY DRINKING WATER FROM THE HUDSON RIVER ESTUARY

Community

Treatment facility

Operator

Population Served

City of Poughkeepsie

Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Facility

Poughkeepsies’ Joint Water Board

81,224

Town of Poughkeepsie
(Poughkeepsie Townwide Water District)  

Town of Hyde Park
(Greenbush and Arbors Condominium Water Systems)

Town of East Fishkill
(including Hopewell Glen water district via Central Dutchess Water Transmission Line)

Dutchess County Water &  Wastewater Authority

Town of Hyde Park
(Hyde Park, Staatsburg and Harbourd Hills water service areas, including Zones A, B, D and L)

Rogers Point treatment facility, Hyde Park

Dutchess County Water &  Wastewater Authority

9,636

Village of Rhinebeck

Rhinecliff water treatment facility

Village of Rhinebeck

5,300

Town of Rhinebeck

Town of Lloyd
(Highland Water District)

John Jankiewicz Water Plant

Town of Lloyd

5,000

Town of Esopus
(Port Ewen Water District)

Roger Mabie Water Treatment Plant

Town of Esopus

4,500

Population totals are based on figures in Annual Drinking Water Quality Reports.

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