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Newburgh

Information for Communities Impacted by Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs)

City of Newburgh, Town of Newburgh and the Town of New Windsor

As part of the federal Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Program, the City of Newburgh and other water suppliers serving over 10,000 people are required to test for several potential contaminants, including perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).

In May 2015, the City of Newburgh issued its previous year's Annual Water Quality Report with PFC contamination identified in Lake Washington and reported these results to EPA. All samples were below the EPA's provisional short-term health advisory that was in place at that time. Governor Cuomo created a Water Quality Rapid Response Team in February 2016 for for investigating contamination across the state and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the presence of PFCs in March. Immediately, DEC began to investigate the source of the contamination affecting Newburgh and, with DOH, assisted the City to connect to an alternate water supply.

New York State also urged EPA to take vigorous action on the federal level to regulate PFOA and PFOS. In May 2016, the EPA issued a revised health advisory of 70 ppt for lifetime exposure, by which time the City of Newburgh had already switched to a PFC-free source of water in coordination with New York State.

What's Being Done

New York State has taken proactive and aggressive actions to address water quality issues in the Newburgh area. To date, the state has:

Filters used at Lake Washington
Filters used for the Lake Washington draw down.
  • Swiftly transitioned the City to a clean, alternative drinking water supply called Brown's Pond in early May 2016 and to New York City's Catskill Aqueduct in early June.

  • Committed to fund all Catskill Aqueduct water payments to NYC and advanced the first $2.4 million payment to the City of Newburgh on 9/14/16.

  • Committed to fund and started to construct a Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) system at the City of Newburgh water plant to remove PFCs from Lake Washington water that will be completed by the fall of 2017.

  • Funded and constructed upgrades to the Catskill Aqueduct connection at the City of Newburgh's alternate water source pump station: completed December 2016.

  • Conducted sampling in potentially affected areas of the Lake Washington, Silver Stream, Beaver Dam Lake and Moodna Creek watersheds and the vicinity of the Stewart International Airport and Stewart Air National Guard base that identified Stewart Air National Guard Base as the likely source of PFC contamination in the area due to the use of PFC-containing firefighting foam.

  • Listed Stewart Air National Guard Base as a state Superfund site in August 2016 to hold the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) responsible for full site clean-up.

  • Launched an ongoing initiative to sample private wells potentially affected by PFC contamination in the Lake Washington area near the Town of New Windsor and Town of Newburgh border and in the vicinity of Beaver Dam Lake.

  • Committed to fund municipal water supply connections and point of entry treatment systems (POETs) to impacted private residences in the Towns of Newburgh and New Windsor.

  • Built a system to draw down water Lake Washington - by pumping and filtering lake water and then discharging clean water into the watershed - in order to ensure the integrity of the dam; the pumping and treatment system processed 150 million gallons of water from September to December and will start up again in spring 2017.

  • Launched a fish sampling program to better understand the extent and impacts of contamination in the watershed.

  • Launched an updated source water assessment planning process for the watershed.

DEC and DOH will oversee DoD, the party responsible for the management and operation of Stewart Air National Guard Base, in the development of site investigation and remediation plans to address contamination from the Stewart Air National Guard Base.

Remedial Program

staff conducting surface water sampling
Collecting surface water samples.

Based upon contamination impacting Lake Washington, Newburgh's primary water supply source, and neighboring watersheds, the state initiated investigations into the source of the PFCs. In particular, DEC investigated the historic use and storage of PFC-containing firefighting foam on the Stewart Air National Guard Base and Stewart International Airport to identify potential sources.

Beginning in March 2016, DEC collected surface water samples from Lake Washington and its tributaries. Since that time, the state has conducted extensive sampling of groundwater, surface water, sediment, storm water outfalls, drainage areas, ponds, and culverts to help identify the extent and potential sources of the contamination in order to develop appropriate strategies to remediate the pollution. The results of these investigations are summarized in the figures and reports listed below.

Area of Interest Maps:

Figures Showing Sampling Data:

Tables showing these data points are available in the reports included below.

Time Line of New York State's Activities:

A chronological summary of New York State DEC's, DOH's and the New York State Department of Transportation's (DOT's) response activities in the Newburgh area is provided below:

Work Plans:

Reports:

Please note: the file size of the following document are large and in some cases have been broken up into several parts for download.

Newburgh Drinking Water Supply

The City of Newburgh's primary drinking water supply is Washington Lake, located in the Towns of New Windsor and Newburgh about one-half mile southwest of the City's water filtration plant, which is also situated in these townships. The City has two back-up water supply options: Brown's Pond and the New York City - Catskill Aqueduct Tap located in the Town of New Windsor.

New Water Treatment System

The state is funding the design and construction of a permanent Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC) treatment system to filter PFCs out of the City of Newburgh's public water supply. A series of filters (tanks) containing GAC, a proven technology to remove PFCs from water, will be installed. This installation requires relocation of the existing finished water holding tank. Construction of a new finished water holding tank, in the southeast corner of the property, is complete and operational. Demolition of the existing finished water tank is underway to allow construction of the GAC filter building. DEC is coordinating with DOH and the Orange County Health Department on the design, construction, and startup of this system, which is scheduled to be operational by October 2017.

New York City - Catskill Aqueduct Tap Connection

The City of Newburgh Water Supply System is currently drawing water through an existing New York City Catskill Aqueduct tap that delivers water into Silver Stream. Construction of the piped connection between the Catskill Aqueduct and the City of Newburgh's pump station was completed and became operational at the end of 2016. A discharge pipe from the Aqueduct to Brown's Pond will be installed by DEC in the Spring of 2017.

Pumps being used for Lake Washington draw down.
Pumps in operation for Lake Washington draw down activities.

Lake Washington Draw Down

Water levels in Lake Washington rose following the switch of the City of Newburgh's Water Supply from the lake to the Catskill Aqueduct, creating a potential threat to the lake's dam and surrounding watersheds. In order to maintain the integrity of the dam structure, the state funded the design and construction of a portable GAC treatment system to minimize the potential for the release of PFC-contaminated water. Water from the lake was routed into a series of 10-foot diameter vertical tanks containing GAC prior to being discharged to Silver Stream and the surrounding watershed. Operations to draw down the lake began September 20, 2016 and were suspended in early December when the treatment system had to be shut down and winterized. Operations will resume in spring 2017.

Private Water Supply Response Actions

Where contaminants are detected in private wells, DEC has provided bottled water as an interim measure, and offered to install point of entry treatment (POET) systems or connections to the municipal water supply as long-term measures. In the Leary Lane, Coranas Lane and Steele Road areas, an extension of municipal water lines are currently being planned.

Private Well Sampling

DOH has sampled the drinking water wells of a number of homeowners and businesses in the towns of Newburgh, New Windsor and Cornwall which are not connected to a municipal water supply.

Beaver Dam Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District

The Beaver Dam Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District encompasses almost 800 homes, approximately 650 of which utilize private groundwater wells for their drinking water. Surface water samples collected within the watershed upstream of Beaver Dam Lake contained concentrations of PFCs slightly above the EPA Health Advisory Level. Although Beaver Dam Lake surface water is not used as a source of drinking water, private drinking water wells within the area are being sampled by DOH. To date, PFCs have not been detected in most private wells in the Beaver Dam Lake area. Where there were detections of PFCs in private drinking water well samples, they occurred at levels significantly below the EPA Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion.

Source Areas and Responsible Parties

On August 12, 2016, DEC determined that the Stewart Air National Guard Base is a source of PFCs to the watershed and DEC and DOH listed the base area as a Class 2 State Superfund site, identifying the U.S. Department of Defense as a potentially responsible party for the contamination detected in the area and in the City of Newburgh's public drinking water supply. The primary source area is the Stewart Air National Guard Base - Site No. 336089

Investigations to identify additional potential sources and responsible parties are ongoing.

Contact Information

For questions specific to Newburgh, please contact the DEC Press Office:

For more information, contact the New York State Water Quality Hotline at 1-800-801-8092.

Additional Information

Public meetings were held in the City of Newburgh on June 20, 2016, September 19, 2016, October 25, 2016, and December 5, 2016 to present the findings of the state's investigations, discuss planned actions, and to hear the concerns of the community. An additional meeting was held February 6, 2017 to give an update on Beaver Dam Lake.

Fish Advisory

DEC and DOH found elevated levels of PFCs, mainly perfluorooctane sulfonate acid (PFOS), in certain fish species, and DOH has issued a "catch and release" advisory for select water bodies to ensure that residents do not consume PFC-contaminated fish. DOH recommends that anglers practice "catch and release" only from the following waters until further notice:

Area Waterbody

Newburgh Beaver Dam Lake
Lockwood Basin/ Masterson Park Pond
Moodna Creek
Recreation Pond
Silver Stream
Stream from Stewart State Forest to Beaver Dam Lake
Washington Lake

Press Releases