VERNON CENTER, N.Y. - Congressman Anthony Brindisi was joined by Vernon officials to call on the state to provide answers and address drinking water quality in Vernon Center.
According to Brindisi, residents in Vernon Center have been dealing with contaminated water for over 10 years. Vernon officials believe the source of the contamination is the former New York State Department of Transportation salt storage facility in Vernon Center.
"If it's the state that is primarily responsible for the salt seeping into the ground water, we're looking to the state to put some resources here to fix the problem," Brindisi said. "Residents here deserve clean drinking water and they've been living with it for far too long."
According to town officials, there are 11 properties with contaminated wells. In samples taken from these homes, they found 60 times the normal level of sodium and 26 times the normal level of chloride.
The Vernon Town Supervisor, Randy Watson, says the situation is getting worse.
"It's just disgusting, they can't bathe, they're going out of their houses to take baths, they're bringing water in, they can't drink it, they can't wash their clothes, it's been devastating," Watson said. "We've been working on this for 10 years, we've got everything we need besides the funds."
The proposed water project would connect residents in Vernon Center to the existing water system in the Village of Vernon. It would include a six mile longer water main, a water storage tank and a booster pump station, providing 213 houses and businesses with public water.
Brindisi says he will send a letter to the New York State Transportation Commissioner, Marie Dominguez, to demand answers.
Brindisi’s letter to Commissioner Dominguez is below:
Dear Commissioner Dominguez:
I recently toured Vernon Center, where residents are experiencing issues with very hard, salty, and bad tasting water. The water coming through the individual wells can cause damage to water softeners, faucets, and pipes in resident’s homes.
Of even greater concern is the fact that this water could be hazardous to residents’ health. The amount of chloride in residents’ water far exceeds the level recommended by the New York State Department of Health; according to sampling done by Barton and Loguidice Engineers, chloride levels reached up to 6,600 mg/L, which is 26 times the NYSDOH recommended level. Furthermore, Barton and Loguidice sampled sodium levels in the water and found up to 3,800 mg/L, 60 times the normal sodium levels.
I am deeply concerned that the residents of Vernon Center do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. I am aware that New York State has provided drinking water to residents in Vernon who have bad tasting water. I am seeking further information on their behalf:
● Why has the New York State Department of Transportation been providing drinking water to the residents of the Town?
● Has the NYSDOT examined the potential impact of its former salt storage site?
● New York State has periodically tested the drinking water in the area. Would the state be willing to share the results of that testing with the Town of Vernon?
The health and safety of our citizens is of the utmost importance to me. I appreciate your attention to this urgent matter and look forward to your response.
Member of Congress
A spokesperson for New York State Department of Transportation, Joe Morrissey, sent NEWSChannel 2 a statement responding to Congressman Brindisi's claims.
That statement is below:
“According to two independent studies done in 2015 and 2016, there is no evidence that high levels of chloride are from the salt shed but instead are likely due to naturally occurring salt found in the soil. Nevertheless, we will review the new study and continue providing bottled water to the community until a longer-term solution is determined.”