Rockland: Concerns over drinking water prompt meeting

by Robert Brum, originally posted on May 6, 2016


Rockland officials are holding an information session May 11 to answer questions after concentrations of chemicals found at two Haverstraw locations were higher than federal drinking water standards.

Levels of trihalomethane, a byproduct of disinfecting water by using chlorine, exceeded standards at the two spots but did not constitute an immediate health hazard, according to the Rockland County Health Department.

But residents’ concerns have persisted, so Rockland County Legislator Harriet Cornell, chairwoman of the Environmental Committee, will lead a program to provide information about drinking water regulations, including the frequency of testing and how results get reported.

The program will discuss the public health effects, if any, of trihalomethane, and recommendations for any changes. Cornell expects to include discussion of what testing is conducted for other chemicals or contaminants in the drinking water supply.

Suez Water New York, which provides drinking water to the majority of homes and businesses in Rockland County, is expected to participate. The company announced last month that it had 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.

That reservoir supplies about 30 percent of the water Suez uses to provide drinking water to its 300,000 Rockland customers.

A notice sent out by the water company stated that some studies suggest people who drank water containing trihalomethanes for long periods of time (such as 20 to 30 years) have an increased risk of cancer and for low birth weights, miscarriages and birth defects.

Legislator Jay Hood, who represents Haverstraw on the county board, said residents wanted more information about the drinking water violations.

“I want answers as to how this happened and what is being done to make sure it does not happen again,” Hood said. “Given all the national news concerning water contamination, we need assurance that our water is being tested regularly and is safe for our families.”

Participants will also include Daniel Miller, Rockland’s water supply program manager; other county and state health officials; and a scientist from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades.


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