Despite filtration system, Hoosick Falls hesitant to use water

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Some progress has been made in the installation of a water filtration system in Hoosick Falls, but a lot of work is still left to be done.

People living in the village of Hoosick Falls have been living off bottled water for months, and they aren’t happy with how the situation has been handled.

A temporary water filtration system was placed into cement and pipes were attached on Thursday, but it will be a while longer before people in the village can drink the water again. But even then, some said they won’t drink it because they’ve been lied to too many times about the issue.

Gary and Daraine Niegoda said they feel like they’ve been camping for weeks. They haven’t been able to use the village water since it was found to be contaminated with a chemical called PFOA.

Gary said he bought a carbon filter at the advice of his daughter when he noticed the water contained strange particles a few years ago.

In 2014, Michael Hickey tested the water on his own and found dangerous levels of PFOA. Hickey said he told the mayor about his findings, but people weren’t told to stop drinking the water until the Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to the mayor in December 2015.

“That’s the attitude we’ve kind of gotten here,” the Niegodas said. “’How bad can it be? It’s no different than drinking out of a plastic bottle,’ they said.”

The Niegodas, however, did not want to say who made that assertion.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation declared Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics as a superfund site, which is defined as a polluted location that needs a long-term response. Saint-Gobain has paid for the temporary filtration system.

“I don’t understand that,” Gary said. “If I was not guilty, I wouldn’t be paying for somebody’s problems.”

The system was partially installed on Thursday.

“I still don’t know if I’m going to be drinking water because who’s to say after they clean up under the mill – is that going to take care of it?” the Niegodas questioned. “And how much will be removed by the filtration system?”

Mayor David Borge was not at the village hall on Thursday. NEWS10 ABC found him at his home, but he said he would speak on Friday.

Borge said the system will be running in about a month. The New York State Department of Health said they expect the system to be connected in two to three weeks, which is when water will be in the system. It will then be followed by a period of flushing of all the water lines to remove any residual PFOA in the system and testing to ensure the water is acceptable quality.

“Too late; doesn’t make much difference,” Gary said. “Well, she’s got a growth – a cyst on her kidney – that was bigger than a pear and that was, what, two years ago longer than that. I’ve had three GI bleeds, and I don’t know what they’re caused by.”

To learn more, visit the village website, HERE.

The New York State Department of Health said residents can call the DOH at (518) 402-7950 to ask to be included in the testing. They can also log onto the DOH website, HERE, to sign up. Blood testing and sampling will begin in February.

In addition, anyone concerned about the ongoing water issue can go to a public town hall in Bennington, Vt. Famous environmental activist Erin Brockovich will be at Bennington College from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 30 in the Greenfield Auditorium. She will share her experiences dealing with water contamination.

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