Water

A year later, 20 Queensbury homes use only bottled water

QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – In March 2021, it became public that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation asked residents near Jenkinsville to make significant life changes. Residents of five homes were asked to switch to bottled water for drinking and cooking after DEC found PFOA and 1,4-dioxane in their wells.

Fast forward a year and 5 homes became 20, according to DEC’s update this week. Crews are closer to finding out which of the four adjacent landfills is causing the contamination, but there is more testing to be done.

Well water is used by all 122 homes in Jenkinsville—as are all Queensbury homes next 3 miles south, and north into Lake George. Fewer well tests can be done in winter as snow covers the community, but DEC was able to get a lot done by October 2021. Fifty-five households who had been sampled for PFOA and 1,4-dioxane were asked to agree to another round of testing, and 48 agreed to do so.

A breakdown of these tests: 41 homes were either free of both pollutants or found to have extremely low levels of them—too low to pass state thresholds to cause any concern. To validate the results, another six houses will undergo another round of resampling. A family has become the 20th to switch to bottled water – now just months after some of their neighbours were first seen doing so.

All 20 households had pollutants below the immediate high-risk threshold, but out of an abundance of caution, DEC encouraged this transition. According to the DEC’s update last October, if preliminary results show levels of PFOA or 1,4-dioxane contaminants exceeding one part per billion, additional testing will be initiated.

The investigation into Jenkinsville began in 2020 when DEC routinely tested water wells at the Queensbury landfill north of the community. Contaminants found there led to tests starting nearby.

The Queensbury Landfill is one of four surrounding the community, along with the Finch Paper, Ciba-Geiby and McLaughlin Landfills. In August last year, the DEC said testing at all three landfills had ended and no significant contamination had been found in any of them.

This goes back to the Queensbury Landfill, where it all started. Consultant TRC Companies, Inc. is currently conducting site characterization of the landfill and now suspects that is the reason. The way the water flows, only properties south of the landfill are considered at risk. Places such as two gas stations and restaurants north of the site do not have potentially hazardous water flow paths.

The work is expected to continue throughout the spring and summer. Once completed, DEC will be able to identify the responsible party.

For the 20 residents of the Queensbury community, it’s unclear what the best long-term solution will be. Queensbury Ward 1 MP Anthony Metivier had previously suggested connecting the community to the town’s water mains, a process that would have to cover three miles and cost a lot of town money. Metivier and Queensbury director John Strough did not respond to NEWS10’s request for comment on Thursday and Friday.

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