Environment council hears of headway on water maps

HUDSON–The county’s Environmental Management Council (EMC) looked at detailed maps of groundwater resources in 10 towns around the county at the EMC meeting this week. Steve Winkley, from the state’s Rural Water Association (NYRWA), brought copies of the maps, showing wells and groundwater sources for the municipalities he has worked with.

The EMC representatives from those towns who attended the June 28 meeting were given copies of the maps and a presentation on a DVD about them. The mapped towns are Ancram, Austerlitz, Chatham, Claverack, Copake, Germantown, Ghent, Hillsdale, Stuyvesant and Taghkanic.

Mr. Winkley said that having the maps, which look at drinking water sources, will help the towns protect those water sources. He said that NYRWA and the county received a Hudson River Valley Greenway grant to do the mapping so it does not cost the towns anything to do the mapping.

How would other towns obtain similar maps for water sources within their boundaries? “Basically, the town has to come to me,” he said.

“I’ve gotten a lot of interest after the whole PFOA thing,” Mr. Winkley told the council. PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, a suspected carcinogen, has been found in water systems in neighboring Rensselaer County communities, among them, Hoosick Falls.

He said that he hoped to have a meeting at Columbia-Greene Community College for town officials and members of the council to discuss the mapping project.

According to his report to the EMC, under the grant, which was applied for by the county Planning Department, the EMC and the Town of Chatham, NYRWA integrated three Geographic Information System (GIS) datasets, then distributed the datasets on the state’s GIS Clearinghouse and created the maps. The report says that NYRWA has been working with towns in the county since 1995.

The report he gave to the EMC says that the information includes “groundwater resource mapping and how it can be used as a tool for land use planning, economic development and natural resource protection.”

The EMC representative from Hillsdale said that his town’s Conservation Advisory Committee used the groundwater maps created several years ago to propose adopting an aquifer overlay district.

“Each one of those towns will use it a little differently,” Mr. Winkley said of the information. He also said that most towns he’s worked with have created source water protection plans.

“Having a countywide approach is excellent,” he said of looking at the water system. The towns that have not had the mapping done are Canaan, Clermont, Gallatin, Greenport, Kinderhook, Livingston, New Lebanon, Stockport and the City of Hudson.

“If you think your town would be interested, get in touch with me,” he told the council.

Also at the meeting:

• The council hosted its annual Good Earthkeeping Awards ceremony. Six of the awards were presented, with two awards in each of three categories. The Columbia Paper and Sundog Solar received the awards in the Business category; Camphill Ghent and the Columbia County Habitat for Humanity ReStore received the award in the Group category; and Cynthia Creech of New Lebanon and Jamie Purinton of Ancram were honored in the Individual category. In her remarks at the presentation Ms. Creech, of Artemis Farms, paraphrased a quote, saying that service is the price we pay for being. “That applies to everybody in this room,” she said. Awardees were nominated by their municipalities or by individuals

26 16news EMC with photo

EMC presents 6 Good Earthkeeping Awards, including one for paper. The Columbia County Environmental Management Council’s Good Earthkeeping awards were given out at a ceremony Monday, June 27 at the County Office Building in Hudson. The awards recognize businesses, groups and individuals–two awards in each category–for their “environmental accomplishments and contributions resulting in the preservation, improvement and/or keener public understanding of the intrinsic value of the natural environment in Columbia County.” Pictured (l to r) are Betsy Ferris Wyman, VP of Sundog Solar; Nick Franceschelli of Camphill Ghent; Marcia Witte, manager of Habitat for Humanity ReStore; Brenda Adams, director of Columbia County Habitat for Humanity; Jody Rael, president of Sundog Solar; Cynthia Creech of Artemis Farms; Jamie Purinton; Diane Valden, associate editor of the Columbia Paper; Parry Teasdale, editor and publisher of the Columbia Paper; and Richard Steel, of Camphill Ghent. Photo by Emilia Teasdale

• The EMC discussed a survey sent out by the county Board of Health to towns about having a county sanitary code. Tara Becker from the county Health Department, who was at the meeting, said that the Health Board only got 11 responses from the survey and only 1 of the 11 was in favor of adding a code. EMC Chairman Ed Simonsen of Kinderhook said he was “very disappointed about the survey.” Mr. Simonsen worried that the towns saw the code as more regulation.

The EMC meets on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. in the county office building on 401 State Street, Hudson.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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