In an effort to address concerns over clean drinking water, the Newburgh City Council voted to endorse Riverkeeper’s drinking source water protection scorecard and its findings at Monday’s city council meeting. The council will also work to draft recommendations to improve the water quality in Newburgh.
“Riverkeeper is partnering with the city as they have in the past with this particular scorecard,” said Mayor Torrance Harvey. “So that we can start to have a true assessment of the watershed and how can we move forward with protecting the water shed. So that we don’t have this water contamination tragedy ever again.”
Riverkeeper is an advocate for the Hudson River and the protection of its watershed. Riverkeeper’s scorecard was presented at last Thursday’s city council work session. The scorecard includes a series of questions developed by Riverkeeper to ask a drinking water supplier. Depending on the answers to the questions, the drinking water is scored.
On the scorecard, Newburgh was scored as 15 out of 100. Attendees of Thursday’s meeting gasped in shock over the score.
On Monday, Harvey explained that Newburgh’s watershed extends into neighboring municipalities. He explained that development from other municipalities have an impact on the watershed. Because of the extension on the watershed, Harvey explained that state legislation is needed to take certain actions in other municipalities.
“We are definitely as a city very very aware of our water situation, of our water shed, the improvements we need to make” said Councilman Anthony Grice. “It is our number one thing. We do need clean water.”
Since the 2016 polyfluoroalkyl substances [PFAS/PFOS] contamination of Washington Lake, Newburgh’s primary reservoir, water has been a large concern to residents of the city. As a result, Washington Lake is no longer used for the city’s drinking water supply. Since then, the city has transitioned water sources.
On Thursday, the city will begin to transition its drinking water source to the Catskill aqueduct. This transition will only last until the aqueduct’s next shutdown this coming fall.
Recently, the city helped supply the Town of New Windsor with water. This aid helped add a revenue increase of $33 thousand dollars.
The City of Newburgh has also received a $3 million water infrastructure grant. This money will go to improving the technology of the city’s water filtration plant on Little Britain Road.