Last Wednesday night, New York State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt held a water quality task force public hearing at the Vails Gate Fire Department. Joining Schmitt were New York State Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, and New York State Assembly Minority Task Minority Task Force Co-Chairs, Assemblyman Dan Stec and Assemblyman Michael LiPetri.
The panel heard testimony from environmental experts, elected officials, representatives and more, on the water quality in the Hudson Valley, and issues that need to be addressed.
When it came time for Steven DeMartino to testify, he brought up a container of muddy water. “This is what I’m dealing with,” said DeMartino as he set down the container.
DeMartino is a resident of the Village of South Blooming Grove. “I moved here about two years ago,” said DeMartino. DeMartino proceeded to describe how he noticed problems with the water as time went on. “You can’t drink it,” said DeMartino as he looked at the container. “You can’t cook it. You can take showers in it, but I feel like I haven’t showered in two years.”
DeMartino explained that he understood that the water situation was a complex issue and not exclusive to South Blooming Grove. While looking for the right words, DeMartino pleaded “please, I’d like to have clean water someday.”
“Residents are forced to purchase clean water for the usage of drinking and cooking,” said James LoFranco, Mayor of the Village of South Blooming Grove. LoFronco explained for the past few years, South Blooming Grove has lacked a viable source of clean water. He also explained the village is working on steps to improve the quality of the water, like securing a filtration system.
South Blooming Grove is only one of many parts of the Hudson Valley that has water issues. In 2016, it was found that the City of Newburgh’s primary reservoir, Lake Washington, had toxic chemicals named PFAS and PFOS. PFAS and PFOS is short for per and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Stewart Air National Guard Base was found to be a major source of the contamination. The contamination not only impacted the City, it also impacted other municipalities like New Windsor.
Since then, various state officials like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have become involved in the water situation.
“Water quality issues and water crises are impacting countless communities across my district and our state,” said Schmitt. “From emerging contaminants like PFAS and PFOA, aging infrastructure, depletion of aquifers to harmful algae blooms and wastewater treatment concerns. All levels of government must work together to ensure all New Yorkers have safe, quality drinking water now and for future generations to come.”