Is there something in the water in Richfield Springs?


RICHFIELD SPRINGS, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Richfield Springs water supply along Route 20 is fed from the village's reservoir in the Town of Springfield.

While driving on Route 20, village resident Joseph Lawrence said he saw what he believes was a dead deer floating in the water. Water that heads to the filtration plant before ending up in the houses and businesses throughout the village.

Naturally, Lawrence was concerned.

"First off, drinking water," he said. "I've got a six year old daughter that goes to Richfield. I've got another little daughter. We drink the water. A lot of people do. The school gets it. It can't be healthy for anyone, I assume."

So, Lawrence decided it was time to make some phone calls - and he made many of them, all in an effort to get someone to investigate.

"At first, they didn't believe me," Lawrence said. "They said they'd get some down there and get ahold of the proper authorities."

After hearing Lawrence's story, we went to DPW superintendent to find out just what they did to handle the situation.

Richfield Springs Village Public Works Superintendent Jim Malinowski said that they received each of Joe Lawrence's calls, and went out to the site multiple times, but could find no sign of a deer.

"Our village office received a call last Thursday about someone who saw what they thought was a deer in one of our reservoirs," Malinowski said. "So, one of our water superintendents went down and looked and couldn't find anything. Part of the reservoir was open to the bank, but they observed no tracks at all."

"Some of these footprints are from Thursday when they actually came out," Lawrence said, pointing to footprints in the snow near the water. "They actually did come out and look, I know that much. They didn't find anything."

Malinowski said that on Friday, the office got another call and that at that time they sent two people from the wastewater plant to the site, but again, the search turned up empty other than some muskrat tracks. Those tracks, Malinowski said, lead to a hole in the ice adjacent to the open body water.

"I'd like to be heard," Lawrence said. "And if it's just one person calling out of a town, I can understand they're not going to rush out and do something about it. But, there were a few phone calls made and it just didn't seem like anything was being done until I called the media."

On Monday, the Richfield Springs Village Clerk called the DPW garage and that's when Malinowski said he was made aware of the situation. He said that at that point, he sent two of his people to the scene. Malinowski said those two people walked around the entire area, but couldn't find anything other than a muskrat hole and some tracks.

"First, they said it might've been a muskrat and then they said that they couldn't see it, so it probably wasn't a big deal," Lawrence said.

Lawrence was adamant that he saw a deer's ear sticking out of the hole in the ice and a muskrat near it, but the Public Works Superintendent said he doesn't believe it's a deer that they're dealing with.

"We obtained a small boat and three of our people went out with an axe and broke the ice from the shore out to the hole where he said he saw it," Malinowski said. "We found that there was a mound of grass built there in the pond that muskrats will make in the winter time so that they can eat all winter. And the grass went all the way to the top of the ice. So, it was a feeding bed for muskrats. No sign of deer. No tracks or anything like that."

Malinowski said that while they believe it was a muskrat, neither that nor a deer would've caused a problem with the water supply due to the treatment and filtration the water goes through every day before its passed along to residents.

"In any open body of water you're going to find them," he said. "It's just the natural habitat, you know. That's where they live."

Still, Malinowski said he encourages residents like Joseph Lawrence to let them know when they find possible issues, as the only way know if something is wrong is if residents keep them aware.

"It's mostly by folks who - if they didn't let us know, we wouldn't know," he said. "And we appreciate those calls."

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