Rensselaerville water-chemical levels border on unsafe as town works toward upgrades

— from town of Rensselaerville
This Rensselaerville map shows the Rensselaerville hamlet in red, and nearby Lake Myosotis, which is the source of the district’s water. 

RENSSELAERVILLE — Rensselaerville’s 2022 drinking-water-quality report shows that the water district has been doing better, but still struggling to contain the levels of TTHMs and HAA5 — two chemical byproducts of the disinfection process and that may cause health issues — as it works to improve its water-treatment facility. 

While the running annual averages for both chemical classes were below the state thresholds, which the report calls “stringent,” the testing did turn up values beyond that allowance. 

The upper value of TTHMS, or trihalomethanes, which has a state-set limit of 80 micrograms per liter, was 122 micrograms per liter in 2022, with a low of 28.6 and an average of 69.9, according to the report.

The upper value of HAA5, or haloacetic acids five, which has a limit of 60 micrograms per liter, was 77.2, with a low of 42 and an average of 77.2, the report says. 

Each was tested quarterly. 

The average water turbidity also exceeded state limits during an August test period, indicating that the Rensselaerville filtration system was not working effectively, as the report explains. 

“Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of the water,” the report says. “We monitor it because it is a good indicator of the effectiveness of our filtration system. Our highest single turbidity measurement for the year occurred on 8/12/22 (2.38 NTU). State regulations require that turbidity must always be less than or equal to 1.0 NTU.”

NTU stands for Nephelometric Turbidity Unit, which is the unit used to measure the turbidity of a fluid or the presence of suspended particles in water.

Although the tested levels still triggered violations, the averages are much better than what they were in 2021, when the average for TTHMs was 101.15 and the average for HAA5 was 136.9. 

Seeking to fix these long-term issues, the town’s water committee, led by Chairman Ed Csukas, who recently took over from Bill Bensen, is interested in obtaining grant money to help cover what is bound to be a sizable expense of overhauling the water treatment facility.

The committee is working with a number of different organizations to figure out its options, including Delaware Engineering, the Albany County Department of Health, and a group called Sustainable Growth. 

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation announced this week applications are open for $78 million in funding for water-quality-improvement and protection projects, and must be submitted by July 28. 

The types of projects eligible for funding are: 

— Wastewater treatment improvement and abatement of combined sewer overflows;

— Non-agricultural nonpoint source pollution abatement and control, including green infrastructure projects;

— Vacuum trucks for municipal separate storm-sewer systems;

— Land acquisition for drinking-water source water protection;

— Salt storage;

— Dam safety repair/rehabilitation;

— Aquatic connectivity restoration; and

— Marine habitat restoration.

At the town board’s June 8 meeting, Csukas told the board that the committee is “building a requirements list for a potential [request-for-proposal] that would go out to engineers to help get us a report that would make us eligible for grant funding.”

The Rensselaerville Water District serves around 80 households in the Rensselaerville hamlet, according to the town’s comprehensive plan appendices. The water is drawn from Lake Myosotis; the plan notes that the lake is susceptible to algal blooms, which can increase turbidity, but the water quality is reported to be “generally good.”

More Hilltowns News

  • Joseph M. Sciancalepore, of Freehold, was charged with burglary and assault, among other crimes, after, police say, he entered a Westerlo residence while armed with a knife. 

  • Despite concerns about a worsening leak, Huyck Preserve Director Anne Rhodes maintains that the Lake Myosotis dam is expected to work normally under typical weather conditions, referring to a 2022 inspection report from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that found it to be well-maintained.

  • An idea floated by Rensselaerville Supervisor John Dolce to reduce the number of polling places in the town fell apart after concerns were raised about voting accessibility and the fact that the deadline to get the number changed before this year’s election has already passed.

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.