VALATIE—The Columbia County Department of Health (DOH) is reporting that two water supplies, one serving Valatie and the other the New Lebanon School District, have been found to have levels of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) that exceed the state maximum contaminant level (mcl).
A Village of Valatie well called number 1 has tested at a level of 14 parts per trillion (ppt) with the state’s mcl set at 10 ppt. The New Lebanon High School tested at 13 ppt.
Valatie’s exceedance was discovered in October as a result of routine testing by the village water department. At the direction of the state Department of Health, that well was immediately taken off line with wells 2 and 4 providing water for residents. Additional testing by the village water department and county health department has confirmed the extent to which the well exceeded the maximum contaminant level.
New Lebanon’s water issues were also discovered as a result of 4th quarter testing. Testing at the Elementary School has shown that levels there are within the acceptable range.
While PFOS at high levels has been found to cause a wide range of health issues in experiments with animals, the state mcl is well below levels known to cause any health problems, according to a press release from the county DOH. New York has been more aggressive in setting its mcl. The federal mcl for PFOS is 70 ppt.
In the case of Valatie, mitigation of the exceedance involves keeping well 1 offline as well as looking at the long term solutions. Village officials have indicated they will pursue filtration.
The village has been talking about a filtration project for almost a decade. At a 2013 board meeting, then Mayor Diane Argyle said a filtration system for the village’s water system could cost a few million dollars. At the time she stressed that the project was long overdue. “It should have been done yesterday,” she said at the meeting. In 2014, the board discussed a proposal for $1.9 million for a filtration system that they did not pursue.
In a letter sent to residents about the recent issue with PFOS, village officials said, “The village will be developing a long term strategy of permanent treatment/filtration/mitigation for each well. Valatie Village will be moving forward with a permanent remedy, rendering the water system in compliance with no exceedance of PFOS.”
In New Lebanon’s case, the state is requiring that the district post the water at drinking fountains as non-potable and provide bottle water for students. Their long term mitigation choice is also to install a filtration system.
A statement from the school district says that they “will be setting up several water drinking stations around the Jr./Sr. High School as well as posting signs on each water source reporting that the water is not drinkable. The Jr/Sr. High School kitchen staff will be cooking using a different water source. Our current water source is safe to wash hands, dishes, etc.”
The statement, on the website posted on January 28, reads, “Our district will be working with the state Education Department, architects, and engineers to install a water filtration system on our well that will remedy the problem. Additional information will be shared as further testing and progress occurs. This process is similar for any chemical detected in public drinking water that requires mitigation due to exceedance of an mcl. The compliance timetable will ensure that the district’s drinking water will meet the mcl standards as rapidly as possible.”