The potential cause of the tainted water was discovered Wednesday. For the latest, click here.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is investigating a potential spill at a local New Paltz reservoir as SUNY New Paltz cancelled classes and ordered all students to leave campus because of an ongoing ‘Do Not Drink’ advisory for the community.
Mayor Tim Rogers confirmed Tuesday morning a DEC spill team was dispatched to examine the local reservoirs. DEC workers were seen just before 1 p.m. examining New Paltz Reservoir Number 4, just off Mountain Rest Road and immediately adjacent to the New Paltz Water Treatment Plant.
The workers deferred all questions to the DEC’s regional press office, which did not respond to a list of questions by the end of the work day Tuesday.
Rogers confirmed a spill report was filed with the DEC early Tuesday.
New Paltz residents started complaining over the weekend of a natural gas or kerosene odor in their tap water. The town advised residents in the Town and Village of New Paltz water districts to not use tap water for drinking, cooking, or making ice cubes early Monday morning.
There is no indication the water is unsafe to bathe in, according to village officials.
SUNY New Paltz announced Tuesday all classes are cancelled from 3:30 p.m. through the end of the week. All on-campus students were told to leave campus by noon Wednesday and expect to be away until Sunday.
Of the nearly 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students attending the university, a little more than 2,800 live on-campus, according to SUNY New Paltz Assistant Director of Communications Andrew Bruso.
“We are making this decision due in part to our limited ability to prepare and serve food to all resident students,” according to the message sent to students, faculty and staff. “This decision also supports our local municipality as it works to identify and resolve the issue.”
International students were encouraged to contact the Center for International Programs for help.
Hundreds of international students attend SUNY New Paltz, according to the university.
There will be drinking water and “limited” food services at Peregrine Dining Hall for students unable to leave, according to the message.
Several water distribution points have been set up to provide residents with potable water, including at Village Hall and the SUNY New Paltz campus. For a full list, click here.
The water tankers and bottled water was funded by the state, according to Rogers.
More than 40,000 gallons of potable water had so far been deployed, the Governor’s office announced late Tuesday.
New Paltz started feeling the impacts of the water advisory Monday, as restaurants were forced to close.
The New Paltz Central School District closed its four schools Tuesday. There had been a snow day on Monday, the first day of the advisory.
However, Interim Superintendent Bernard Josefsberg announced today the schools will reopen Wednesday with the water fountains blocked off.
There was no reason to believe New Paltz’s water woes were connected to the recent repairs of the Catskill Aqueduct, which supplies New Paltz with the majority of its water, according to NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokesman Adam Bosch.
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 DEP 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.
Tests of the Catskill Aqueduct showed nothing unusual, and there had been no reports from any other communities using the aqueduct of malodorous water, Bosch said.
Water takes two days at the most to travel from the Ashokan Reservoir past New Paltz to Newburgh through the aqueduct, Bosch added.
The Catskill Aqueduct re-opened Jan. 27, suggesting any impacts from the cleaning and repairs would have reached New Paltz far earlier.
The state Department of Health and private companies hired by New Paltz are testing water samples taken from the town and village earlier in the week.
Mayor Rogers said he was hoping these samples would come back early Wednesday.
It is not yet known when the DEC will complete their investigation of New Paltz Reservoir Number 4.