Brindisi Demands Answers From State Whether Contaminants From Former State Salt Storage Facility Seeped Into Groundwater
Brindisi: “I’m Sure Residents Appreciate New York State Providing Them With Bottled Drinking Water But It’s Time New York Provide Them With Answers”
Congressman Anthony Brindisi announced a new effort to demand transparency from the state of New York and improve water quality in Vernon. Brindisi, joined by Vernon Town Supervisor Randy Watson and County Legislator Keith Schiebel, called on New York State to answer questions about water quality in the hamlet of Vernon Center.
“Clean, safe, and drinkable water should be a basic right for all Americans,” said Brindisi. “Unfortunately, many residents in Vernon Center have been dealing with contaminated water for years. Last year, I visited with residents here and heard their stories: stories of hard, salty, drinking water; stories of low-quality water wearing on faucets and pipes. That is why I am here today. Joined by the elected officials of this community, I am fighting to hold New York State accountable”
Brindisi, flanked by local officials and residents, announced he was sending a letter to New York Department of Transportation Commissioner, Marie Therese Dominguez, demanding answers on behalf of Vernon. Brindisi outlined key findings from an engineering firm’s assessment of the town’s water quality.
Engineering firm Barton and Loguidice Engineers, found chloride and sodium levels 26 and 60 times the recommended rate respectively. Brindisi demanded answers. Brindisi, Town officials and residents want the State to acknowledge whether contaminants from former state Department of Transportation salt storage facility are responsible for elevated sodium and chloride levels in groundwater.
“As New York State provides these residents with bottled water, they are not providing answers,” Brindisi said. “When members of the community are being provided bottled water but no answers, that is a failure of transparency and a failure of basic government.”
Local officials agreed with Brindisi.
“It’s been a priority for the Town of Vernon to address water contamination that impacts individual wells in the Hamlet of Vernon Center,” said Oneida County Legislator Keith Schiebel. “This issue has been a problem for years. Several homes have drinking water that is unsafe to drink and critical help is needed to address this immediately. We thank Congressman Brindisi for his efforts in highlighting this public health concern.”
“This has been a major concern for residents in Vernon Center. It simply cannot be ignored any longer,” said Town of Vernon Supervisor Randy Watson. “We are glad that Congressman Brindisi is taking action to stand up on behalf of many homeowners who continue to deal with unhealthy water conditions. I am hopeful that the State will step up to the plate and respond before things get any worse.”
Brindisi, a longtime advocate of clean drinking water, last year, supported legislation that included more than $3 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Funds, an increase of $319 million from the previous year.
Brindisi’s letter to Commissioner Dominguez is below:
The Honorable Marie Therese Dominguez
NYS Department of Transportation
50 Wolf Road
Albany, NY 12232
Dear Commissioner Dominguez:
I recently toured Vernon Center, where residents are experiencing issues with very hard, salty, and bad tasting water. The water coming through the individual wells can cause damage to water softeners, faucets, and pipes in resident’s homes.
Of even greater concern is the fact that this water could be hazardous to residents’ health. The amount of chloride in residents’ water far exceeds the level recommended by the New York State Department of Health; according to sampling done by Barton and Loguidice Engineers, chloride levels reached up to 6,600 mg/L, which is 26 times the NYSDOH recommended level. Furthermore, Barton and Loguidice sampled sodium levels in the water and found up to 3,800 mg/L, 60 times the normal sodium levels.
I am deeply concerned that the residents of Vernon Center do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. I am aware that New York State has provided drinking water to residents in Vernon who have bad tasting water. I am seeking further information on their behalf:
● Why has the New York State Department of Transportation been providing drinking water to the residents of the Town?
● Has the NYSDOT examined the potential impact of its former salt storage site?
● New York State has periodically tested the drinking water in the area. Would the state be willing to share the results of that testing with the Town of Vernon?
The health and safety of our citizens is of the utmost importance to me. I appreciate your attention to this urgent matter and look forward to your response.
Member of Congress