When one thinks of the water resources of Schuyler County, the first thought is of our many lakes and streams. However, when it comes to drinking water, most County residents draw from a ground water source, not from surface water. Additionally, more than 50% of County residents obtain their water from a private supply, and not from a publicly owned and operated water system. Either way, surface or ground, public or private, what you get from your tap is obtained directly from our local water resources. It is part of the mission of the Watershed Protection Agency’s to make sure that our source water maintains its excellent quality.
Public water supplies are strictly regulated and monitored by the NYS DOH, administered locally by Hornell District Field Office. Depending on the source, an elaborate filtration and/or disinfection treatment system is utilized to meet certain federal and state water quality standards. All public water supplies are managed by trained and certified staff. The county currently has approximately 67 public water supplies, including eight separate water districts.
More than 50% of Schuyler County’s residents get their drinking water from an individual water supply. State and County policy and rules regulate the development of an individual water supply. However, each individual water supply currently being utilized in Schuyler County (and NY as a whole) is largely unregulated. Therefore, it is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that the water coming out of the tap is clean and safe to drink. On an annual basis, between 10% and 15% of the individual water supply samples collected by the WPA do not meet the Federal EPA potability standards. For these situations and on a case by case basis, additional monitoring, maintenance practices, treatment and/or well replacement are recommended.
Understanding where your water comes from and what, if any, treatment it undergoes before you fill that glass up at the tap is an often overlooked, but fundamental health concept. By gaining that knowledge base and protecting your water supply, you will help improve the health of yourself, your family and your community.