Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment
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Clean, safe drinking water is fundamental to all of us. The water we drink in Dutchess County comes from many different sources including public water supplies and private wells.  This webpage is designed to help you, the consumer, understand more about the water you and your family use.

The responsibility to monitor water quality rests with many federal agencies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state agencies including NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and local jurisdictions including the Dutchess County Department of Health (DCDOH), and importantly… the individual consumer… YOU!

We all have a role to play in assuring that our drinking water remains clean and safe. The Dutchess County Department of Health manages many programs to monitor and assess water quality throughout the county. The combined assessments captured from these monitoring efforts provide trend information on the water quality in Dutchess County and enables the identification of emerging problems, the determination of whether pollution control programs are working, and response to emergencies such as floods, spills or contamination.

The following information provides you information about who monitors specific water supplies and where you can get additional data and research to be an informed water consumer.

For information for consumers on PUBLIC WATER SUPPLIES, see the following section titled Public Water Supply Monitoring.  For information for consumers on PRIVATE WELL WATER SUPPLIES, see the section titled Private Well Water Supplies or click HERE.

 

Public Water Supply Monitoring

The Department of Health currently regulates nearly 700 public water supplies (PWS) to ensure compliance with New York State Part 5 rules and regulations and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) . These supplies include municipal water systems, residential public water systems, motels, restaurants, camps, schools, daycares, etc. that either meet the definition of a public water supply under New York State Department of Health Standard (which can be found here:
http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/regulations/) or are a facility under permit.

Water Quality Sampling, Testing and Reporting

Our staff works closely with public water supply owners and operators to assure compliance with NYS Part 5 rules and regulations that apply to PWS. Some PWS require the oversight of the supply by a Certified Water Operator. All Certified Water Operators are approved by the NYSDOH and must meet specific qualifications for the size and complexities of the PWS they will be certified to operate.

To view a map of the Distribution of Public Water Supplies, click on the following link:
http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/Departments/Health/HDwellproject_publiconly.pdf

Samples are taken regularly at these sites to analyze for bacteria, inorganic compounds, and organic compounds. The frequency and number of samples taken at each supply is dependent on which PWS definition is applicable to that supply. To find out how often your drinking water is required to be tested, contact your public water supply. If you are not sure how to contact your water system supplier, the information should be listed on your water bill or can be found in your local telephone directory or you can contact the Dutchess County Department of Health (DCDOH).

If violations of EPA standards are found through routine sampling/testing, water system customers must be notified by the supplier. Depending on the type of violation, NYS Part 5 rules and regulations establishes a requirement for notifying customers. If the water has been contaminated by something that can cause immediate illness, suppliers must notify customers within 24 hours of confirmed test results. The supplier is required to make public announcements through the media and provide information about the potential adverse effects on human health, steps the system is taking to correct the violation and the need to use alternative water supplies (such as boiled or bottled water) until the problem is corrected.

If the violation is of less immediate concern, a water supplier must inform customers about the violations either within 30 days or in its next water bill, in its Annual Water Quality Report or by mail within a year.  Violations are also posted online in the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS).   For a list of Dutchess County Water Systems click HERE, or to search SDWIS by water system name click HERE.

Community public water suppliers are required to issue Annual Water Quality Reports by May 31st each year to their customers. These reports contain information about the water source, any contaminants found in the drinking water and possible health effects. Please be sure to read these annual reports to understand important information about your drinking water. If you do not receive your annual water quality report, be sure to contact your water supplier or contact the Dutchess County Department of Health.

 

Monitoring Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) levels in County public water supplies over the past decade

MTBE was used as a gasoline blending component until it was banned in New York State in 2004 and replaced with ethanol.  MTBE dissolves easily in water, and historically appeared as a contaminant in water supplies primarily as the result of gasoline spills and leakage from gasoline tanks.  To date, the EPA concludes that there is insufficient research to quantify human health risks of low-level exposure to MTBE in drinking water, but recognizes it as a potential carcinogen at very high levels of exposure on the basis of animal studies. The sample results for MTBE from public water supplies in Dutchess County have been summarized in a trend report.  The Trend Report on MTBE in Public Water Supplies illustrates a major and continuing downward trend in MTBE concentrations in groundwater over the last decade in Dutchess County. 


Plan Review Commercial Subdivision and Individual Lot Approval -
Sewage Disposal System Impact on Water

Adequate separation between water supplies and sewage disposal systems is a core component in the protection of water quality. The Environmental Engineering section of the Environmental Health Services division is responsible for the review and approval of the arrangements for water supply and sewage disposal. The types of plans reviewed by the engineers include: individual lots, realty subdivisions, commercial projects, and municipal water and sewer. The engineers are also involved in change of use requests and sewage disposal system modifications, all of which have potential of impacting on-site or neighboring water supplies if sewage disposal systems are used beyond their design capacity. Links to references for engineering can be found at
http://www.dutchessny.gov/CountyGov/Departments/Health/HDenvreg.htm.

 

Private Well Water Supplies

Unlike public water systems, private wells are not regulated by the EPA, New York State or the Dutchess County Department of Health. According to the EPA, most U.S. ground water is safe for human use. However, ground water contamination has been found in all 50 states, so well owners have reason to be vigilant in protecting their water supplies. Well owners need to be aware of potential health problems. They need to test their water regularly and maintain their wells to safeguard their families’ drinking water.

The EPA’s publication Drinking Water from Household Wells is a valuable guide for homeowners to learn more about how to maintain and safeguard their private well water supply. The publication can be found online here: http://www.epa.gov/privatewells/pdfs/household_wells.pdf and offers 6 basic steps homeowners can take to protect their private drinking water supply:

  1. Identify potential problem sources.
    Septic systems can be potential sources of contamination of private water supplies if they are not properly maintained or located improperly or if they are used for disposal of toxic chemicals. See above.

  2. Talk with local experts.
    Ground water conditions vary. Examples of knowledgable experts to reach out to include Dutchess County Department of Health sanitarians, or Cornell Cooperative Extension http://waterquality.cce.cornell.edu/.

  3. Have your water tested periodically.
    The New York State Department of Health has a fact sheet about Recommended Residential Water Quality Testing available here:
    http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/regulations/fact_sheets/fs3_water_quality.htm.

  4. Have the test results interpreted and explained clearly.

  5. Set and follow a regular maintenance schedule for your well and keep up-to-date records.

  6. Immediately remediate any problems.


 

The Environmental Health Services Division of the Dutchess County Department of Health also provides assistance to the public by advising them on what water quality results mean and how they can address water quality issues they may be facing. Individuals often reach out to the department via Your Dutchess Direct or by calling the department at 486-3404.

For information about water laboratories, please visit the following webpage:
http://www.dutchessny.gov/CountyGov/Departments/Health/HDenvwater.htm

 

Comprehensive Countywide Private Well Testing Initiative

In 2007 and 2008, the Dutchess County Comprehensive Private Well Testing Initiative was conducted to collect information about Dutchess County private well water source quality that serve single-family, owner-occupied residences, type of water supply,  focusing on water quality that was not already monitored by the County’s public water supply program.

Over 250 private wells that serve single-family, owner-occupied residences were randomly selected from all Dutchess County municipalities.   Map can be viewed here:
http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/Departments/Health/HDwellproject_DCHDsites.pdf.

The results of two phases of testing mirrored existing data the Dutchess County maintains from its nearly 700 public water systems and were consistent with United States Geological Survey surveys of the drainage basins throughout New York State.   To learn more about the Private Well Testing Initiative and review the data collected, click here:
http://www.dutchessny.gov/CountyGov/Departments/Health/14361.htm.

 

Local Municipal Laws regarding Private Well Testing

Additionally, there are local municipalities who have local laws that require testing of wells during real estate transactions. Our Environmental Health Services division coordinates with the Town of East Fishkill, the Town of Fishkill, and Town of Wappinger to post the results of such testing on the County website. The Department of Health also reviews the results of these tests and notifies residents of results that may pose a public health impact. More information on that program, including the test results, can be found at
http://www.dutchessny.gov/Municipalities/13331.htm.

 

NYSDEC Spill Coordination and Assessment

The State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) handles complaints related to the environment (air, water, or soil). The Dutchess County Department of Health’s Environmental Health Services Division is copied on Spill Reports from the NYSDEC. These reports identify complaints received or "spills" reported to the NYSDEC. These spills are investigated by the NYSDEC and when it is believed there could be an impact to public water supply wells in question or neighboring properties, well sampling is required.

In addition to the NYSDEC assessing location impact of such spills, the Dutchess County Department of Health staff also review spill reports and conducts a search for any PWS we monitor that may be impacted. If a PWS is in the area, we assess the significance of the spill report and may request sampling of the PWS or for the supply to sample at an increased frequency.

A database of NYSDEC related issues can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/584.html.  The Division of Environmental Remediation of the DEC offers access to its cleanup site and spill data in a searchable format. The Spill Incidents Database Search has records dating back to 1978 and is updated nightly. This database contains records of chemical and petroleum spill incidents.

 


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Kari Reiber, MD,Commissioner of Health Kari Reiber, MD
Commissioner of Health
Dutchess County Seal

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    Last Updated: 11/18/2014