Possible Water Contamination Issue in New Paltz Forces Schools Closed

Some residents started complaining about a troubling taste and smell in the tap water over the weekend, the town's mayor said

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What to Know

  • After several odor and taste complaints, a New York town has told all residents to not drink the tap water
  • Some residents started complaining about a troubling taste and smell in the tap water over the weekend, the town's mayor said
  • It is not known what caused the odor and taste, but a sheen was discovered on the surface of town reservoirs

After several odor and taste complaints, a New York town has told all residents to not drink tap water — a decision that is impacting local businesses and schools.

New Paltz officials sent out a precautionary advisory on Monday to drink bottled water until it can be determined if the town’s water is safe for consumption, which includes using it for drinking, cooking or making ice. Restaurants were also ordered not to serve water to customers, or use it to prepare their food.

Some residents started complaining about a troubling taste and smell in the tap water over the weekend, town mayor Tim Rogers told NBC New York, prompting officials to take action. No proven cause has yet been found for the odd taste and smell. County and state officials said that bathing, showering, and washing dishes or clothes is allowed.

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SUNY New Paltz canceled all classes for students until after President’s Day weekend, and mandated the thousands of students who live on campus to leave by midday on Wednesday and not expect to return until February 15th at the earliest.

The college had a tanker of water along with palettes of water bottles and jugs available to them on campus. There were other tankers located throughout the town, like at Village Hall and smaller ones at apartment complexes.

Public schools in the town were closed on Tuesday, but are set to reopen Wednesday.

Rogers said officials are testing the water quality from the New Paltz reservoirs, where a slight sheen on the surface was discovered Tuesday morning.

“When we shared that with the department of health officials they said absolutely that could be a volatile organic compound or it could be a naturally occurring decomposition,” Rogers said.

Sixty percent of the water used by the town is purchased from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which maintains the water systems in multiple counties, according to Rogers. Four local reservoirs also provide 40 percent of the water, and it was unclear what the source of the problem may be.

The city’s DEP said that the incident has “nothing to do with the NYC water supply system,” referring to the sheen found on the local reservoir.

It is unclear when the water will be deemed safe to drink again, and final test results regarding what is in the water could take several days.

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