Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ramapo River Update

By Michael-Thomas Marciante

It’s amazing how hazardous contaminants can affect a community that is dependent on a single source of water supply. In fact, humanity has grown aware of germs, viruses, and microscopic dangers to humanity during the Industrial Revolution, when a community grew ill due to a contamination of a local well. The Ramapo River, a vast river in Northeastern New Jersey and New York, in the Ramapo Mountains has been suspected of being contaminated in the past, and the issue is still being investigated.

Students from the local institution of higher education, Ramapo College in Mahwah NJ, drink from the Ramapo River every time they drink from the tap. Even after purification and water treatment resources, there may be contamination. In1992, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented the following statement to the Mahwah public, “If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health, he shall publish a notice of the determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of any such notice, no commitment for Federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may be entered into for any project which the Administrator determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into two plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.”

The EPA was saying that the Ramapo River was such a significant sources of water in the Bergen County area. Any contamination would be devastating to the environment and health risks and would be a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In 2008 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), released an assessment on the Ramapo/ Hackensack River Waterbody Unventory. Their findings were quite shocking. The quality of the water ranged from 30-45% of poor quality water, making unsafe drinking water. The department determined that the quality of the water was mostly contributed run off from major roads and industrial pollutants; as they are the main cause of hazardous contamination.

In a December 9, 2009 article, Charles Duhigg of the New York Times; reports of illegal concentrations of hazardous chemicals were found. Arsenic and tetrachlorethylene (key ingredient in laundry detergent) were found in massive quantities in the water. Both chemicals are carcinogenic, and research shows that the people of Ramsey, NJ have been consuming the poisons since 2004.

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