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Residents Of Newburgh, NY Dealing With PFOS Water Crisis !!!

Residents Of Newburgh, NY Dealing With PFOS Water Crisis !!!

by Andrew Ciccone July 18, 2017

Never drink water that fails to meet EPA standards. Tell that to the fine citizens of Newburgh, NY.

Many communities are facing drinking water contamination crises with alarming frequency here in New York state, as their source waters (streams, wetlands and open lands that naturally supply and filter drinking water supplies) are degraded.

“I’ve been drinking that water for years, and my daughter’s been drinking and bathing in it, that’s shocking to me,” says Stuart Sachs, an artist who moved here from Brooklyn 14 years ago. “My daughter is 11. What diseases is she going to have to look forward to? It’s scary.”

Newburgh, NY residents have been exposed by a toxic chemical at unsafe levels. The City of Newburgh is facing a drinking water crisis after the toxic chemical PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) was found to have contaminated its primary reservoir, Lake Washington.

“ The health effects that have been identified as potentially concerning for PFOS including liver conditions, immune and thyroid concerns, low birth weight are the main ones,” Brad Hutton, state deputy commissioner of public health. PFOS, or perfluorooctane sulfonate, has been linked to cancer, thyroid problems and other serious health issues.

New York State has declared the Stewart Air National Guard Base, as one major source of the water contamination. Newburgh residents were exposed to the Air Base water contamination, they face long-term challenges of:

  • Removing the sources of contamination.
  • Cleansing its reservoir.
  • Providing appropriate medical attention to the 29,000 residents exposed to the water, and reversing the long-standing degradation of water quality in the streams, wetlands and open spaces that naturally filter and feed its reservoirs.

New York state’s Riverkeeper defends the Hudson River and its tributaries, and protects the drinking water supply of 9 million NYC and Hudson Valley residents. The Riverkeeper’s mission is simple: protect the people, and protect the water.

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The Riverkeeper’s Source Water Protection project published an influential Case Study and Call for Comprehensive Source Water Protection (July, 2016) relating to the drinking water supplies in Newburgh, NY.

" This has been in the drinking water supply for years … we may have exposed a whole generation to this contaminant, " said Dan Shapley, the water quality program director with Riverkeeper.

Based on these findings, to protect and prevent clean water crisis such as Newburgh, we must:

  • Enforce the Clean Water Act and Environmental Conservation Law in order to protect waters from degradation from pollution, and to preserve the natural filtration provided by forests, wetlands and other natural infrastructure.
  • Enforce the Safe Drinking Water Act and Public Health Law in order to assess and prevent risks to source waters, and to empower communities to protect their water supplies.
  • Coordinate protection efforts across multiple layers of government, each with significant authorities and responsibilities for source water protection.
  • Provide the leadership, funding and staffing necessary to implement comprehensive source water protection programs.

Get involved and make a commitment to be part of the solution. Make a difference:

  • Test your water quality. You can test the quality of the water in your home by buying and utilizing a water testing kit.
  • Act locally. Talk to local officials about your concern for clean water. Land use decisions made by municipalities affect water quality downstream. In many cases, all it takes is a few persistent citizens to motivate local officials to do a better job protecting aquatic habitat and natural resources.
  • Rainwater harvesting: prevent erosion and damage to gutters, storm drains, and pavement by reducing overflow in basic home irrigation systems.  When it rains, you store.
  • Clean it up. Support your local community and participate in a clean-up day. Set an example by always picking up your own trash and pet waste before it washes into our waters, and encourage neighbors to do the same.
  • Prevent hazardous waste from reaching the river. Report chemical spills on roadways or bridges to hazardous waste teams.

We all make decisions about how we live and interact with our environment. We are all a part of the solution. We need to protect our water and realize that what we do impacts the quality of our water.

Working with the communities, Riverkeeper is piloting the use of a Scorecard to monitor and assess the quality of our water. Your involvement is vital to the quality of our water, If you use the Scorecard in your community, please notify Dan Shapley, Waterkeeper: Water Quality Program Director, at to report any instances of water contamination or visit the website


Andrew Ciccone
Andrew Ciccone


Andrew Ciccone, VP Branding & Media Strategy - Andrew's long strange marketing trip began after graduating from Syracuse University with a BS in Marketing. Andrew then developed his marketing prowess when he moved to Madison Avenue big boys Young & Rubicam, Backer Spielvogel, and Grey Advertising. He went on to get a Masters in Corporate Communications from Baruch College, then went on to start his own agency in 2011 - Hudson Valley Public Relations. Andrew has earned a reputation for creative, smart, innovative campaigns that get results. Andrew's spare time is devoted to sailing regattas, family fun and film. To date he has penned four screenplays.

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