HOOSICK FALLS, NY — A new filtration system that officials say will reduce levels of a contaminant in the public water supply is "fully operational," but don't drink from the tap just yet.
Although water began flowing through the system on Tuesday, officials still need to flush contaminated water that remains in mains, hydrants and pipes around the village, according to Mayor David Borge. Officials hope to start that process this weekend.
The filtration system, in addition to new filters for private well owners in the town of Hoosick, aim to remove the man-made perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from the water. Both efforts were heralded Thursday as progress towards bringing clean water to residents.
"Our team worked literally around the clock to install this system as quickly as possible," Borge said in a statement issued Thursday. "A project that typically takes months to complete only took a few weeks time."
Residents are still being advised against drinking tap water if they're on the public water system, have not had their private well tested for PFOA, or have had state officials recently install a filter on their home. They should use bottled water until officials advise the water is safe to drink.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced Thursday it has installed 53 point of entry filtration systems (POET) in Hoosick. Funding came from a portion of the $10 million set aside from the Superfund, the state's hazardous waste cleanup program. A total of 1,500 POET systems will be installed and will reduce PFOA levels below two parts per trillion.
The state has begun searching for a new water supply for the village. But until then, the Saint-Gobain Corporation is paying $2 million for the recently installed "temporary" filter and a larger system seen as a long-term fix. The company will also pay for both systems' operating costs including replacing the filters.
The village leased the 22-foot-high, two-vessel temporary system from Calgon Carbon of Pittsburgh, Pa. It rests in a heated enclosure some 10 feet away from the village's water treatment plant. Water already treated by microfiltration and disinfection will be pushed through the filters before being piped out to users through the existing 12-inch water main.
It could take two weeks to completely flush contaminated water from water mains and hydrants, according to Borge. The flushing will start in neighborhoods at the village's south end and move north. Updates will be posted on the village's website.
"Flushing the system will allow clean treated water to flow from our water treatment plant and carbon filtration system into our municipal water distribution system," Borge said. "This will move any residual PFOA-contaminated water in the system to the local sanitary sewer system, where it will be discharged with other water into the Hoosick River. State officials have assured the village that PFOA levels currently in the system will be diluted and will not negatively impact the wastewater treatment plant or the Hoosick River."
Once hydrants and mains are flushed, DOH will ask residents to flush their household pipes by running their taps and flushing toilets, according to Borge. DOH will send people door-to-door to tell people the specific steps they should take to flush their homes.
DOH will also collect several samples of treated water, in addition to samples of tap water from 25 households on the system, to determine the system's effectiveness.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979