New York State Announces New Full Capacity Filtration System for Town of Petersburgh Water Supply is Fully Operational

New treatment system successfully removing PFOA to non-detect levels

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 3, 2017) - The New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation today announced the new full capacity granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment system is fully operational for the town of Petersburgh's water supply.The new system is effectively removing Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from the town's water supply and providing clean drinking water to the residents in the Town Water District. The Department of Health (DOH) took multiple samples throughout the distribution system and confirmed non-detectable levels of PFOA and other perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) after a process that disinfected, pressure treated, and flushed the new treatment system.

"Assuring clean drinking water for all New Yorkers is a priority for the State. Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented efforts to safeguard water quality in communities, like Petersburgh, with a legacy of industrial pollution," said Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner of Health. "This new full capacity filtration system is another significant step forward in the state's ongoing commitmentto protecting drinking water."

"At Governor Cuomo's direction, New York State is making a major investment in water protection to ensure we are confronting the threats posed to the environment by emerging contaminants like PFOA," said Basil Seggos, DEC Commissioner. "We will continue to aggressively investigate potential sites of perfluorinated chemical contamination and hold polluters accountable for their actions. The state is committed to ensuring all New Yorkers have access to clean drinking water."

Prior to full operation of the new filtration system, the town dropped the water level in their storage tank to half capacity, allowing any residual water with PFOA to be flushed out completely. Now that the State has verified non-detectable levels throughout Petersburgh Water District, residents will start receiving DOH-approved instructions from the Town on steps to flush their internal plumbing. Traditional plumbing use effectively removes residual water, so residents are not required to flush.

"Today's announcement that the new GAC filtration system is now fully operational for the Town of Petersburgh is terrific news and demonstrates Governor Cuomo's commitment to helping the community move forward. The response to this crisis across all levels of government has made a positive difference for residents. In addition to these important efforts, the recently enacted 2017-18 State Budget's record investment in clean water infrastructure affirms our ongoing, long-term focus of ensuring that New Yorkers have access to clean, quality drinking water. This is a critical, non-partisan priority and something I will continue working toward with all my partners in government," said New York State Senator Kathy Marchione.

"The Town is pleased with the efforts put forth by the Governor's Office, NYSDOH, NYSDEC, RCDOH and Taconic to address this water supply issue," said Petersburgh Town Supervisor Alan Webster.

Following the discovery of water contamination in the Town, DOH, DEC and Rensselaer County worked collaboratively to secure clean water for the community and hold those responsible for the pollution accountable for their actions. Through these efforts, the state has secured a legally binding consent order which details the specific actions Taconic Inc. must take to address the contamination they caused. Included in that order is the responsibility for all costs associated with the design, installation, operation, monitoring, and maintenance of the full capacity GAC systems. As part of the consent order, the responsible parties were also required to provide bottled water to Town residents and undertake a remedial investigation to fully delineate the contamination on and off the Taconic property and then recommend any appropriate remedial actions

In addition to the installation of the full capacity filtration system, the State's efforts in Petersburgh include:

  • DOH, DEC, and Rensselaer County collected multiple rounds of public water supply samples from the Town of Petersburgh WD and have collected nearly 400 private well samples.
  • DEC has installed and serviced 54 Point of Entry Treatment (POET) systems.
  • DOH initiated a confidential PFOA biomonitoring program for more than 500 Town residents.
  • DOH reviewed and approved the GAC treatment system for the Petersburgh WD and with DEC attended multiple public information meetings at Town Hall and Petersburgh Veterans Memorial Community Center.
  • A State Hotline to keep the public informed is available Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at 800-801-8092.
  • Petersburgh residents who had not previously participated in the PFOA biomonitoring program can still contact the DOH to arrange for a blood sample to be taken at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center for analysis by the NYSDOH Wadsworth laboratory.

To ensure that current and future New Yorkers have access to clean water, the 2017 Budget initiated the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act. This investment will protect public health, safeguard the environment, and preserve the state's water resources. These funds will help local governments address water emergencies, pay for local infrastructure construction projects, underwrite land acquisition for source water protection, and investigate and mitigate emerging contaminants in drinking water. These projects will improve the quality and safety of municipal drinking water distribution, filtration systems, and wastewater treatment infrastructure.