Road salt taints wells in Knowlton’s Columbia hamlet

KNOWLTON — Pam and Mitchell Rusweiler say you can tell when it’s spring cleaning at their house — there are toilets in the yard.
And cooking pasta in the Rusweiler household on Decatur Street requires several bottles of water, she said.
Well, our water has too much salt."
It’s all necessary because of sodium chloride — plain salt, the kind you shake on food, and public works trucks spread on highways.
In December, the committee approved agreements with the New Jersey DOT and Warren County to take responsibility for plowing and salting some of the non-interstate roads and feeder streets around Columbia.
We put up signs alerting drivers that they are in a reduced salt area."
Starrs said there has been no agreement reached with the bridge commission, which continues to do its own plowing and salting from its facility across the river in Pennsylvania.
The DEP tested 40 wells in 2015-16 and all showed above normal levels of sodium and chloride.
The cost of that option was put at about $8.5 million, and would require all homes in Columbia to become part of the system.
Portland, Pa., has its own water treatment plant just across the river from Columbia, and piping the water across the river using the existing pedestrian bridge is feasible.

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