Water resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, societal issues. Our student Evan Comilloni makes this connection here…

The news entitled, “State offers solutions for water contamination in north New York Village” was reported by CNN news network on February 12th, 2016. This issue is relatable to WRE domain of hydrology because the quality of the drinking water in this village is contaminated and needs to be addressed properly. In summary, the town of Hoosick Falls in eastern New York is dealing a contaminated drinking water source. Saint-Gobain Performance plastics is a factory located in Hoosick Falls that deals with the production of plastic polymers. A waste product from the process, Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), was being released into the drinking water. PFOA is a toxic chemical and is linked to cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that the PFOA in the drinking water at levels higher than the health advisory of the U.S. PFOA has been used heavily at Saint-Gobain since it opened in 1996. Before Saint-Gobain opened, Honeywell owned the property and also contributed to contamination. The Department of Environmental Conservation is holding Saint-Gobain and Honeywell liable for the contamination. Villagers will be provided with water filtration systems and potentially deeper wells in order to have potable water. The improvements to the village is being paid for by the state, about $10 million, and then the state will be reimbursed by Saint-Gobain and Honeywell. A temporary treatment system is being implemented and being tested. Once the testing is complete, it will eventually be able to provide safe drinking water. Residents of Hoosick Falls cannot drink the water. In my opinion, the facts stated in this article about WRE are valid. Doing further research of governmental websites on the topic, it is apparent of the severity and credibility of CNN’s reporting. Those links are http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/hoosick-falls-water-contamination and http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/105069.html, each one validates the WRE facts stated in the article. I believe the article is missing statistics about the rates of cancer that is occurring in Hoosick Falls. CNN just states about PFOA in high levels causes cancer but failed to compare to other samples in order for the reader to understand how severe the issue is.

Water resources engineering is an important factor in dealing with global, economic, environmental and societal context because of the management of hydrology and hydraulic systems in order to provide more effective usage of water resources. For this particular issue global, economic, environmental and societal aspects are all impacted. The restoration of the potable water and all the resources needed to be purchased for the residents of Hoosick Falls costs money. New York State initially has to pay $10 million for this restoration, but Saint-Gobain and Honeywell are supposedly going to reimburse the state, but if the companies go bankrupt then odds are the state is not going to receive its money back. For the environmentally, this contamination is a huge issue. The quality of the water is diminished and engineers will be hindered by this design constraint. Wildlife and agriculture, among many other aspects of the environment, are impacted by the high levels of PFOA and WRE’s need to design around it. For the societal aspects, the village of Hoosick Falls may be subjected to residents emigrating out of the area. It also adds a new dynamic to the village, which can leave the residents fell like that have been abused and lied too. After all, these residents have been drinking water that causes higher risk of cancer for about 20 years. Globally, it reminds us not to forget about regions with smaller populations. Hoosick Falls is not a large place with a big population, but their safety should be held paramount just as a larger population would be. Unfortunately, issues of these small villages get forgotten about and this situation shows us we need to be mindful and aware of problems occurring throughout the world. Given the circumstances, the relationship between Hoosick Falls and WRE’s has changed, given that there will be more of a dependence on engineers to correct the issue that has occurred. WRE’s are going to play a huge rule in cleaning up the contamination EPA.gov (http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/hoosick-falls-water-contamination), states the danger at which the PFOA poses for residents in Hoosick Falls and states that the drinking water is not safe to drink. Future designs from WRE’s will be very important for this region of New York to provide a situation that is not detrimental to the health of the residents.

Images:

Figure 1: Map of New York, and location of Hoosick Falls, NY.

Picture1.png

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hoosick+Falls,+NY+12090/@42.1805051,-79.8981859,6z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x89e098dcdfdf50ab:0x366954d76d2a7d66

Url: http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/12/us/new-york-hoosick-falls-water/

References:

  1. Ellis R, Assefa H. New York offers solutions for Village of Hoosick Falls – CNN.com.CNN2016. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/12/us/new-york-hoosick-falls-water/. Accessed February 15, 2016.
  2. Hoosick Falls Water Contamination.EPA2016. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/hoosick-falls-water-contamination. Accessed February 15, 2016.
  3. Disclaimer.DEC Requires Companies to Fully Investigate and Clean Up Hoosick Falls PFOA Contamination2016. Available at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/105069.html. Accessed February 15, 2016
  4. Map of New York .Google Maps. Available at: https://www.google.com/maps/place/hoosick falls, ny 12090/@42.1805051,-79.8981859,6z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x89e098dcdfdf50ab:0x366954d76d2a7d66. Accessed February 17, 2016.

 

 

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