Saturday, April 4, 2020

Your help needed in obtaining water quality reports

Collecting water quality data from Fawn Lake(Calling all citizen scientists! The following is from Water Line, a weekly newsletter by Adirondack Explorer water reporter Ry Rivard.)

Late last year, I began requesting documents from the state of New York to help me understand who around the Adirondacks may be drinking potentially unsafe water.

While larger communities in the state of New York post their annual drinking water quality reports online, not all smaller communities do this.

New York is notoriously slow in responding to requests for public records. To give state officials the benefit of the doubt, it’s a big state and a lot of people want to know things about it. The other explanation is that government officials like to control information, particularly information that might scare people or make themselves look bad.

Either way, some of the key agencies that are supposed to make sure water is safe are also busy responding to the coronavirus, so the already slow response time may become even slower.

One of the things I asked for earlier this year is something I’m almost certain could be pulled out of a government-run computer system in a matter of, at most, hours by officials at the New York State Department of Health.

A few weeks ago, I got an update that I can look forward to getting this information in mid-May. Another request I made in December won’t be responded to until late-May, at best. (The department has already granted itself several extensions.)

So, I am looking for a bit of help from readers who, together, can probably help the Explorer get much of that information faster: Each year, your local water district will send you something called an Annual Drinking Water Quality Report.

I have copies of those reports from the larger communities – Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Ticonderoga post them online.

But many smaller communities don’t post these reports. So, if you happen to have one, I’d appreciate if you could take a photo or scan it to send to me.

If you’ve received any other notices about drinking water – like boil water advisories – those would also be quite helpful. I’ve heard these don’t always get posted.

If you don’t get water from a town or village, I have a separate question for property owners with well water: Could you send a copy of the most recent test of your private well?

We know from research by the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College that wells across the Adirondacks have been contaminated with road salt, among other things.

The college did hundreds of its own tests. I know some readers had their water tested by the college, but I bet others have their own private tests that also tell an interesting story.

I know some readers might be concerned about how contaminants in a well may affect property value. If you don’t want your name or address published, just let me know.

Here’s how to reach me:

Finally, I’ve asked you for things. Please feel free to ask me to return the favor. If you have any questions about your water supply or water quality, I’ll see what I can do.

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Ry is a reporter who covered water-quality issues for the Explorer.

2 Responses

  1. terry v says:

    What are the results from the towns you have?

  2. Jasmine says:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I will send you Annual Drinking Water Quality Report if I got it.

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