The Hudson has long been known as a significant resource for our area. Not only have residents along the river cherished the scenic beauty but industry has also used the river as a major transportation route from the Atlantic Ocean and harvesting the significant fish population.
Unfortunately, growth and industry caused pollution to the river from municipal and industrial wastewater discharges and surface runoff from the numerous farms and ranches into the river. The State of New York has been active in cleaning up the River since 1949 when the State enacted a law that established the basic elements of today’s water pollution control program. The clean up really began to move in 1965 and again in 1972 when voters approved separate legislation that provided monies for municipal wastewater construction grants. Today the Hudson is rapidly returning to the quality water that original settlers cherished.
PCB contamination of the river was identified as a problem in 1974. For years General Electric Company had been discharging PCB’s into the River and the ground beneath its Fort Edward and Hudson Falls plants. With the removal of a dam in 1973, PCB-laden bottom sediments washed downstream and collected in basins later called “hot spots”. Subsequently, fish were found to have high concentrations of PCB’s. Because of the distance away from the contamination and the fact that dumping has ceased, customers of the Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Facility have not been impacted by this contamination. We have initiated a monthly monitoring program of the Hudson River to verify the safety our water supply. Throughout all this monitoring we have not found any detectable PCB levels in water supply, however others that have used significantly refined analytical techniques have found traces below our detection level of 0.000010 mg/L and PCB’s at low concentrations in the river sediment. The Health Department agrees that our customers are not threatened by PCB contamination.
Occasionally, we have water quality problems caused by the “Salt Front”. This can occur during drought periods when low water flows in the Hudson can no longer restrain the ocean as it pushes northward up from the Atlantic. The Salt Front line is determined as the point where the salt level, monitored as chloride, reaches 100 mg/l. This point is typically far south of Poughkeepsie, however, during drought periods salt levels are increased in our raw water and subsequently treated water. We carefully monitor the Salt Front and will notify all customers should the chloride level in our treated water supply exceed 35 mg/l or sodium level exceed 20 mg/l. Customers were last impacted by the “Salt Front” in 2020.
While neither cryptosporidium nor giardia has been detected in the treated water supply these organisms are found in all surface waters including in typically very low concentrations the Hudson River. Our water treatment facility follows state of the art treatment procedures to insure our customers are protected from diseases caused by these organisms. All testing on treated water has verified our treatment is effective as neither giardia nor cryptosporidium have been found in our treated water.
In 2019 Central Hudson (CH) initiated a cleanup of a coal gas manufacturing site beneath the Walkway Over the Hudson, 3,000 feet from our intake. In 2020 CH conducted a pilot test to verify dredging and treatment effectiveness. A report is being developed for DEC approval to start full scale dredging in September 2021. Based upon environmental and weather concerns dredging is restricted to September through January.