Letter: Spraying Near Water

A guardrail along Fishkill Road overlooking the reservoir that supplies Cold Spring's drinking water (Photo by M. Turton)

On June 22 I filed a Freedom of Information Law request for Putnam County contracts related to herbicide application along county roads, including Fishkill Road, as well as application records. In response, I received a number of documents that raise serious questions regarding the safety of our drinking water in light of actions taken twice yearly by the county Highway Department. My concerns include:

  • The application contracts are for the spraying of all county guardrails and signs, twice a year, with application records in this data set going back to 2012 — that is to say, this is not a new practice.
  • A report from the company that was hired most recently to apply the herbicides identifies the use of a “non-selective glyphosate product” with injections “into the spray stream when appropriate” of trade chemicals DuPont Oust XP and Credit 41 Extra.
  • Depending on exposures, glyphosate, Oust XP and Credit 41 Extra all carry risks to human, animal and environmental health.

Following resident complaints, an inspection of Fishkill Road was carried out by the state Department of Environmental Conservation on July 12; the DEC inspector’s report documents that the inspection was incomplete, and notes that the contractor, Allen Chase Enterprises, “was not present so not all requirements were checked.”

I forwarded the documents to the Cold Spring Village Board of Trustees and requested that the village Water Department, under the supervision of the board and in consultation with the Philipstown Town Board, investigate further. The public should understand, at a minimum, the following:

  • Why is herbicide spraying of guardrails necessary? What is the hazard of vegetation around guardrails?
  • Are there buffer zones that protect drinking water sources? I have been told that the DEC requires a 75-foot buffer for herbicide spraying — is that accurate?
  • Existing codes related to the protection of the village water supply mandate buffer zones for a number of wastes and hazards. Do we need to address herbicides more specifically?

I hope others will join in the call to stop county spraying of herbicides along roadways, and particularly along the route of our drinking water supply.

Kathleen Foley, Cold Spring


HOW WE REPORT
Trust MarkThe Current is a member of The Trust Project, a consortium of news outlets that has adopted standards to allow readers to more easily assess the credibility of their journalism. Our best practices, including our verification and correction policies, can be accessed here. Have a comment? A news tip? Spot an error? Email editor@highlandscurrent.org.

What Type of Story is This?
Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.
See explanation.

2 thoughts on “Letter: Spraying Near Water

  1. For the reasons given in this letter, and perhaps for other reasons, carbon filtration of drinking water at the tap in the house may be something for people to consider. Unfortunately this option would come at a cost, which may be prohibitive for some.