Residents Told to Not Drink Water as Investigation Continues

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Residents in the Town and Village of New Paltz were told Monday to not their drink tap water as authorities continue to investigate a noxious odor first discovered late Saturday.

The advisory applies to everyone in the Town and Village Water Districts. Residents are advised to not use tap water for drinking, cooking, or making ice.

A 6,000-gallon water tanker was providing residents with potable water at Village Hall on Plattekill Avenue as of 2 p.m. Monday, according to New Paltz Village Trustee Alexandria Wojcik. The tanker is self-serve and residents must bring their own containers.

New Paltz Village Mayor Tim Rogers said several other locations were being set up to distribute water to residents. This article will be updated when those locations become available.

New Paltz, located at the foot of the Shawangunk Mountains in Ulster County, has a population of just over 14,000 people and is one of the youngest municipalities in the country because of the SUNY university in the village.

Residents started complaining of a “kerosene, oil or gas smell” in their tap water over the weekend, Rogers said, and the odor didn’t seem to be concentrated in a particular neighborhood.

“It seems like the number of reports are increasing, and that’s why we went ahead and said, ‘let’s just tell people to stop using the water,’ this morning,” Rogers said early Monday afternoon.

The Ulster County Department of Health was expediting lab tests of the water to find the source of the odor, and New Paltz officials have been in communication with the Governor’s Office, the federal Department of Homeland Security, and the state Department of Environmental Conversation, Rogers added.

Rogers said officials were looking into several theories, including the recent cleaning of the Catskill Aqueduct, which supplies New Paltz with the majority of its water.

The aqueduct – which also supplies water to Newburgh, New Windsor, High Falls and to 40 percent of New York City – was shut down in November for repairs.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which runs the aqueduct, cleared the aqueduct so workers could replace valves and cracked grout and scrape organic build-up from the giant tube’s interior, according to the Shawangunk Journal.

New Paltz started again receiving water from the aqueduct Jan. 27, Rogers said, almost two weeks before the odor was detected.

“It does take a long time for water to circulate through our entire conveyance system,” Rogers added, suggesting water originating in the reservoir would take time to travel through the aqueduct to local resident’s taps.

The DEP told Rogers yesterday they were unaware of any issues in the aqueduct, he said, but the investigation continued.

Surrounding municipalities have had no complaints about their water, Rogers added.

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