Newburgh officials: Washington Lake water filtration near complete

Posted: Updated:
NEWBURGH -

Newburgh officials say the new water filtration system at Washington Lake Reservoir is almost finished, and they are hoping to go back to using it as the city's water supply.

The work began after a May 2016 test found cancer-causing chemicals in the city's drinking water, forcing the reservoir's shutdown.

Authorities blamed the contamination on firefighting foam used nearby at Stewart Air Base. The new water filtration system is able to remove those toxins.

The city has been using the Catskills Aqueduct temporarily.

"We'll be testing the water to demonstrate to the community that we've successfully removed those contaminants once we switch back," says Brad Hutton, the deputy commissioner of the state Department of Public Health.

Those tests are expected to include 42 different samples before March.

About 3,500 residents have also been tested themselves for potential exposure to the banned toxins. Exposure could impact a person's liver or lead to birth defects.

Damian Depauw says he and his wife are expecting a child, and concerns linger even after tests came back normal on his wife.

"They know it does some pretty bad stuff in the long run," he says. "And I have a ton of it in my system."

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