Info Session on Rockland Drinking Water Contamination

A panel discussion on the high levels of chlorine byproducts is scheduled for May 11.

-by Lanning Taliaferro, originally posted on April 28, 2016


A panel discussion about the drinking water contamination reported in early April will be held May 11 in New City.

Suez New York sent a notice to its Rockland County customers about high levels of chlorine byproducts in their water.

It is the second time in 2016 that a Rockland County drinking water supply has been found to have high levels of chlorine byproducts. The same thing happened to Nyack water in February.

Rockland County officials said each time that it was not an emergency and customers were not required to take any special action. The concentrations detected do not constitute an immediate health hazard, but are at a point at which water suppliers are required to take action to maintain a margin of protection against health effects.

All public water systems that use chlorine as a disinfectant contain trihalomethanes to some degree. Public health officials consider disinfection of public water supplies is extremely important for protection against bacterial infection and disease.

Getting lots of questions from constituents, Rockland County Legislator Jay Hood Jr. called for a public information session on the issue of trihalomethanes in Rockland drinking water earlier this month.

“The public wants more information and we will work to provide it,” Hood (D-Haverstraw) said. “I want answers as to how this happened and what is being done to make sure it does not happen again. Given all the national news concerning water contamination, we need assurance that our water is being tested regularly and is safe for our families.”

Legislator Harriet Cornell said she will hold a panel discussion on the topic as part of the Legislature’s Environmental Committee meeting.

  • WHAT: panel discussion on chlorine byproducts in drinking water
  • WHEN: 6:30 p.m. May 11
  • WHERE: in the Allison-Parris County Office Building, 11 New Hempstead Road in New City.

Suez New York has agreed to participate. Scientist Steven Chillrud of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will participate, as will a representative of the Rockland County Department of Health. Legislator Cornell has also reached out to the state Health Department and the DEC.

The focus will specifically be on the contamination reported by Suez.

The company exceeded a federal drinking water quality standard at two testing locations in Haverstraw, with the treated water coming from the Lake Deforest reservoir in Clarkstown.

According to the Suez notice regarding the violations, some studies suggest that drinking water containing trihalomethanes for long periods of time, such as 20 to 30 years, increases the risk for cancer, low birth rates, miscarriages and birth defects.

Suez advised its customers that they could use bottled water or activated charcoal filters (such as Brita pitchers and faucet filters) for drinking and cooking purposes, and run a fan or open a window when showering or bathing. The company said that such measures were not necessary to avoid health effects, but were offered as options.

Rockland county officials said at the time that the language in their notice was largely prepared by the New York State Department of Health to inform everyone about the levels found in the water, why it is important to monitor for them, and what is being done to respond. The notice is on the Suez website.

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