Drinking water in Dutchess County comes from many different sources including public water supplies and private wells.
The responsibility to monitor water quality rests with many agencies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state agencies including NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and local jurisdictions including the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH), and importantly… the individual consumer… YOU!
We all have a role to play in assuring our drinking water remains clean and safe. DBCH manages many programs to monitor and assess water quality throughout the county. Information gathered from monitoring water quality helps us to identify emerging situations, assure pollution control programs are working, and respond to emergencies such as floods, spills, or contamination.
The following provides information about who monitors specific water supplies and where you can learn more.
DBCH currently regulates nearly 700 public water systems (PWS) to ensure compliance with New York State Part 5 rules and regulations and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) . These systems include municipal water, residential public water, motels, restaurants, camps, schools, and daycares that meet the definition of a public water system under New York State Department of Health Standard or are a facility under permit.
Our staff works closely with public water owners and operators to assure compliance with NYS Part 5 rules and regulations that apply to PWS. Some PWS require the oversight of the supply by a Certified Water Operator. All Certified Water Operators are approved by the NYSDOH and must meet specific qualifications for the size and complexities of the PWS they operate.
Samples are taken regularly at these sites to analyze for bacteria, inorganic compounds, and organic compounds. The frequency and number of samples taken at each supply is dependent on which PWS definition is applicable to that supply. To find out how often your drinking water is required to be tested, contact your public water system supplier. If you are not sure how to contact your water system supplier, the information should be listed on your water bill or can be found in your local telephone directory or you can contact the DBCH at 845-486-3404.
If violations of EPA standards are found through routine sampling/testing, water system customers must be notified by the supplier. Depending on the type of violation, NYS Part 5 rules and regulations establishes a requirement for notifying customers. If the water has been contaminated by something that can cause immediate illness, suppliers must notify customers within 24 hours of confirmed test results. The supplier is required to make public announcements through the media and provide information about the potential adverse effects on human health, steps the system is taking to correct the violation, and the need to use alternative water supplies (such as boiled or bottled water) until the problem is corrected.
If the violation is of less immediate concern, a water supplier must inform customers about the violations either within 30 days or in its next water bill, in its Annual Water Quality Report or by mail within a year. Violations are also posted online in the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS). To look up Public Water Systems, enter NY on USEPA’s SDWIS Search | US EPA page.
Community public water suppliers are required to issue Annual Water Quality Reports by May 31st each year to their customers. These reports contain information about the water source, any contaminants found in the drinking water and possible health effects. Please be sure to read these annual reports to understand important information about your drinking water. If you do not receive your annual water quality report, be sure to contact your water supplier or contact the DBCH at 845-486-3404.
MTBE was used as a gasoline blending component until it was banned in New York State in 2004 and replaced with ethanol. MTBE dissolves easily in water, and historically appeared as a contaminant in water supplies primarily as the result of gasoline spills and leakage from gasoline tanks. To date, the EPA concludes that there is insufficient research to quantify human health risks of low-level exposure to MTBE in drinking water, but recognizes it as a potential carcinogen at very high levels of exposure on the basis of animal studies. The sample results for MTBE from public water supplies in Dutchess County have been summarized in a trend report. The Trend Report on MTBE in Public Water Supplies illustrates a major and continuing downward trend in MTBE concentrations in groundwater over the last decade in Dutchess County.
Adequate separation between water supplies and sewage disposal systems is a core component in the protection of water quality. The County's Environmental Engineering section (Engineering Resources) is responsible for the review and approval of water supply systems and sewage disposal systems. Engineers review a variety of plans, including individual lots, realty subdivisions, commercial projects, and municipal water and sewer. They are also involved in change of use requests and sewage disposal system modifications.
Unlike public water systems, private wells are not regulated by the EPA, New York State or DBCH. According to the EPA, most U.S. ground water is safe for human use. However, ground water contamination has been found in all 50 states, so well owners have reason to be vigilant in protecting their water supplies. Well owners need to be aware of potential health problems, test their water regularly, and maintain their wells to safeguard their families’ drinking water.
The EPA’s publication Drinking Water from Household Wells is a valuable guide to learn more about how to maintain and safeguard your well water, offering basic steps to protect your well water:
DBCH can also help you learn what your water quality results mean and how you can address any quality issues you may have. You can call DBCH at 845-486-3404 or emails us at HealthInfo@DutchessNY.gov.
In 2007 and 2008, the Dutchess County Comprehensive Private Well Testing Initiative was conducted to collect information about Dutchess County private well water source quality that serve single-family, owner-occupied residences.
More than 250 private wells were randomly selected from all Dutchess County municipalities. View map.
The results of two phases of testing mirrored existing data the Dutchess County maintains from its nearly 700 public water systems and were consistent with United States Geological Survey surveys of the drainage basins throughout New York State. Learn more about the Private Well Testing Initiative and review data collected.
Additionally, there are local municipalities who have local laws that require well testing during real estate transactions. DBCH coordinates with the Town of East Fishkill, the Town of Fishkill, and Town of Wappinger to post test results on the County website. DBCH also reviews the results of these tests and notifies residents of results that may pose a public health impact. View more information and testing results.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) handles complaints related to the environment (air, water, or soil). NYSDEC notifies DBCH of Spill Reports which identify complaints received or "spills" reported. NYSDEC investigates these spills and if it is believed that there could be an impact to public water systems or neighboring properties, well sampling is required. DBCH also reviews spill reports and conducts a search for any PWS we monitor that may be impacted. If a PWS is in the area, we assess the significance of the spill report and may request sampling of the PWS or for the supply to sample at an increased frequency.
The Division of Environmental Remediation of the NYSDEC offers access to its cleanup site and spill data in a searchable format. The Spill Incidents Database Search has records dating back to 1978 and is updated nightly. This database contains records of chemical and petroleum spill incidents. View additional NYSDEC data.