What to Know
- Concerns over tainted continue to flow Wednesday in the Ulster County Village of New Paltz
- After discovering a foul smell and taste, local officials told residents not to use the water at all. Officials have been monitoring the situation since Monday, and a water advisory was still in place
- On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the cause of it all was a compromised underground fuel line for the village's water treatment plant heating system
Concerns over tainted continued to flow Wednesday in the Ulster County Village of New Paltz.
After some residents started reporting a foul smell and taste over the weekend, local officials told residents not to use the water at all. Officials have been monitoring the situation since Monday.
On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the cause of it all was a compromised underground fuel line for the village's water treatment plant heating system.
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New Paltz Village Mayor Tim Rogers tells News 4 that an on-site inspection at the village’s water treatment plant revealed a leak in a fuel line that apparently occurred after the line was damaged by contractors who installed a new $5 million filtration system. The damaged fuel line is located about 500 feet from a reservoir.
The new system replaced a 30-year-old filtration system.
It’s thought the fuel started leaking from the line when heat for the village’s water treatment plant was turned on this winter. The line carried fuel from an oil tank at the plant to its heating system.
It’s believed that fuel may have leaked from that line into the soil and one of the village’s four reservoirs, according to Rogers. Forty percent of New Paltz’ water is drawn from these reservoirs while the other 60% comes from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s reservoir system.
According to Cuomo, the village has bypassed reservoir No. 4. It has now isolated that reservoir and water is no longer being drawn from it.
"What we’re doing now is we’re waiting for final lab results to make sure that there aren’t problems within our system," said Rogers. "We’re coming up with a flushing strategy, because if there’s any existing water in the system, we want to figure out how it should be handled."
The village is waiting for lab results to determine when the water is again safe enough to drink. There was encouraging news, however, as the initial rounds of tests showed oil contamination levels were well-below safe levels — and couldn't even be measured. That means there's a change there never were dangerous levels of contamination in the water, but the water advisory will remain in place until another round of testing can be completed.
The water concerns have prompted SUNY New Paltz students to leave campus by noon Wednesday as a result. Classes will be canceled for the remainder of the week. However, public schools remain open since they use well water from their own systems.
Officials have made bottled water and safe water from tankers available to impacted residents indefinitely as the investigation and water monitoring continues.
An advisory telling the 15,000 residents not to drink the water was still in place Wednesday night. It is currently unknown when that order will be lifted, as final test results may not come in for a few days.