Some Queensbury wells up for re-testing, residents still drinking bottled water

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jenkinsville road sign queensbury ny

The Jenkinsville neighborhood in Queensbury, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It’s fall in the neighborhood of Jenkinsville, with pumpkins on porches like anywhere else. For those living there, apple cider isn’t the only thing they’re drinking out of a bottle.

The residents of 19 houses in Jenkinsville have now been drinking bottled water for over 7 months, after the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) disclosed the discovery of 1,4-dioxane in the wells they normally get their water from.

The announcement came based on data first found in the summer of 2020. Now, over a year since then, there are still wells that need to be re-tested.

On Monday, the DEC released a second community update on how many wells in the area have been affected by the contaminants, as well as where they are originating.

The DEC’s first update was released in early August.

Monday’s update highlighted 45 wells that the DEC had tested in recent months, all located along Azure Drive, Old Cronin Road, Mud Pond Road, Rainbow Trail, and part of Jenkinsville Road. Those wells are now slated for another round of samples to be taken, prolonging the wait for residents to know how safe their water is.

Kevin Frazier from the DEC explained on Tuesday that re-testing of sampled wells is done to confirm previous results, something needed in these areas but not in others.

“This is the only area where any private wells exhibited results above the 1 part per billion (ppb) drinking water standard for 1,4-dioxane,” Frazier wrote.

The DEC has maintained that 1,4-dioxane levels in Jenkinsville wells have not been high enough to warrant immediate health concerns and that bottled water is being provided to some homes out of an abundance of caution.

No PFOAs have been found in the water above the state standard for safe drinking water, and the 1,4-dioxane found above those levels has not been classified as immediately dangerous.

PFOAs and 1,4-dioxane are both classified as likely carcinogens for humans, and have been found to cause cancer in animals.

“The Town of Queensbury’s paramount interest is safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our residents and protecting the environment,” said Queensbury Town Supervisor John Strough in an email on Tuesday. “We appreciate the continued support of the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health.”

Residents in the areas that need to be re-tested can expect to be contacted by Parsons, the DEC contractor conducting sampling, within the coming days.

The Jenkinsville neighborhood is just south of four landfills. The inspection of one of them – the Queensbury Landfill off Ridge Road – led to the first findings last summer.

Frazier said that, to date, samples have been taken from wells as far as one mile south and southeast of the landfills (following water flow), and that no dangerous amounts of 1,4-dioxane were found between a half-mile and a mile.

The DEC has been testing wells in a radius expanding out from the Queensbury Landfill, extending half a mile out at the start. As of August, the work had expanded as far as parts of Sunnyside East, toward Vaughn and Patten Mill roads, following the flow of groundwater.

The DEC’s August update said testing at the other three landfills (Finch Paper, Ciba-Geiby, and McLaughlin) has been finished and no significant contamination levels were found.

To date, the DEC has inspected 122 private wells. That number has not moved since the August update.

Next, the DEC said they hope to start fieldwork this fall at the site as part of the site characterization process, which will allow them to then determine how to best deal with the toxic elements in the town’s wells.

It wasn’t clear as of Tuesday whether that work would be done by the time the cider and pumpkins get traded in for hot chocolate and Christmas lights.

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