Test Results Due Soon on Herbicide Use Near Brook

Plus, board asks for review of building fees, hires new police officer

By Michael Turton

Putnam County officials have been stingy with information and slow to respond to questions raised by the spraying of herbicides near Cold Spring’s drinking water supply, according to the village water superintendent.

At the July 11 meeting of the Village Board, Greg Phillips said his major concern is the use of herbicides along three sections of Fishkill Road where it transects Foundry Brook, which supplies drinking water to both Cold Spring and Nelsonville.

“Communications [with the county] have been an issue,” he said, noting he has attempted since June 7 to get information regarding the herbicide concentrations and application, as well as the name of the company hired by the county to apply the chemicals.

Oust XP, sprayed by the county on vegetation near Foundry Brook, which supplies drinking water to Cold Spring, includes a warning that it should not be applied near surface water or crops.

He told The Current on July 13 that he had still not received the information. One of the herbicides, gyphosate, includes a warning that it should not be used near surface water.

While Phillips expressed concern that the use of herbicides has continued near Foundry Brook despite assurances from Putnam County last year that the practice would be abandoned, he said he was optimistic that no damage has been done to the village water supply.

He pointed out that there is no visible die-off of vegetation beyond the narrow strip that has been sprayed beneath guardrails. Dilution of any overspray would also reduce the risk of contamination, he said.

Phillips said test results from water samples taken from Foundry Brook upstream and downstream of the treatment plant on Fishkill Road will be available in about a week. He said he had asked Putnam County officials for confirmation in writing that herbicides will no longer be used along the road and recommended the Village Board make the same request.

In other business …

  • Greg Wunner, who enforces building codes for the newly merged Cold Spring and Philipstown building departments, asked that one set of fees be established. Mayor Dave Merandy noted that if Philipstown’s fees are adopted, some would represent a significant increase to village residents, mainly for applications for bigger construction projects. Village Clerk Jeff Vidakovich was assigned to compare the schedules.
  • Cold Spring has been approved as a Tree City USA by the nonprofit Arbor Foundation. “This is not only a point of pride for our community but will also give our village a few extra points on grant applications,” noted Tree Advisory Board Chair Jennifer Zwarich.
  • Several residents of Church Street have requested approval for a block party to be held on either Aug. 26 or 27. The proposal calls for closing the street to traffic. Other issues include event insurance, the possible need for a state liquor permit, emergency vehicle access and parking for Cold Spring Fire Company vehicles.
  • A public hearing has been scheduled for July 27 at Village Hall regarding recommendations from the Code Update Committee.
  • Trustees approved a recommendation by Cold Spring Police Officer in-Charge Larry Burke to hire Karl Vollmer, a Hopewell Junction resident who graduated from the New York City Police Academy in 2016, as an officer for $21 per hour. The department is still down three officers due to medical leaves and a resignation. Officers answered 80 calls in June, Burke said, and issued 51 parking tickets and 14 tickets for moving violations, including eight for speeding. Two arrests were made, one on a charge of driving while intoxicated and another on a warrant for harassment.
  • Philipstown Town Board Member Bob Flaherty reported that reconstruction of the Avery Road bridge is nearing completion. Installation of guardrails is expected within two weeks.

One thought on “Test Results Due Soon on Herbicide Use Near Brook

  1. It is not clear from the article whether the Cold Spring Village Board followed Water Superintendent Greg Phillips’ recommendation that it formally ask the Putnam County Highway Department to cease its use of herbicides next to the brook carrying the water residents rely on. If not, it should do so at its earliest opportunity.

    County legislator Barbara Scuccimarra should demand an immediate report from the Putnam County Highway Department explaining exactly what poisons were (or are) being sprayed next to the Cold Spring water supply, how long it has been going on, and assurances that all current and future Putnam County Highway Department employees will receive written and oral instructions to never again use herbicides along Fishkill Road.

    After what happened in Flint, this should not be hard.