Residents and officials in Vernon Center are demanding answers as some homeowners continue to see issues with their water.
For some residents, hard, salty, discolored and foul-smelling drinking water has been a persistent issue.
"It's just devastating,” said Vernon’s Town Supervisor Randy Watson. “Homeowners are just in tears talking about it. And you look at the water, but you ought to smell the water. It's just disgusting. They can't bathe, they're going out of their house to take baths or they're bringing water in."
Homeowners believe the issue has worsened over time.
"I built my house 27 years ago and the water was usable at first. And it's just progressively been going downhill since then,” said David Lenhart, a Vernon Center resident.
Samples were taken from 11 contaminated wells in the community. Tests revealed sodium levels were up to 60 times higher than normal, while chloride levels were up to 26 times higher than normal.
Neighbors and town officials say the problem has been happening for around a decade, and it’s taken a toll on some home’s infrastructure.
"I haven't had any pipes break, but faucets and anywhere where's there's a connection, we have a corrosion problems. Faucets usually last, if I buy the real good ones, they'll only last maybe two or three years,” Lenhart said.
Congressman Anthony Brindisi and town officials believe a former Department of Transportation salt storage facility could be to blame for the contaminants in the water.
Brindisi is sending a letter to the DOT asking for answers to the hamlet’s water issues, "The state's been giving out bottled waters, they've done their own testing, that's part of what we'd like to see is the results of the state testing. But after that state testing happened, that's when they started distributing bottled water to the residents here, which I believe is a tacit acknowledgement on their part that they're responsible for the contamination."
The Town of Vernon is hoping a public water project could help alleviate some of the community’s water problems. But officials say they’ll need help funding the over $8 million project.
The Department of Transportation told Spectrum News Tuesday morning that “according to two independent studies done in 2015 and 2016, there is no evidence that high levels of chloride are from the salt shed but instead are likely due to naturally occurring salt found in the soil. Nevertheless, we will review the new study and continue providing bottled water to the community until a longer-term solution is determined.”