SUNY cancels classes amid New Paltz tainted water crisis

NEW PALTZ, Ulster County (WABC) -- Residents of a village in Ulster County are being advised not to use the tap water and a local university has all canceled classes due to a compromised fuel line that may have contaminated the supply.

The New York State Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation are conducting testing at the Village of New Paltz reservoirs on the Mountain Rest Road water treatment plant property.

SUNY New Paltz announced Tuesday that classes are canceled as the university awaits water the results. All classes are canceled at least until Saturday.

Additionally, the university is mandating that all resident students leave campus by noon Wednesday and plan to be away from campus at least until Sunday.

International students and other students who are unable to leave campus are being advised to contact the school for support.

In a statement, the university said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution after the Village of New Paltz issued an advisory.

The village announced Monday that it was investigating the source of complaints about the smell and taste of its water, and Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that a potential source of the contamination had been identified.

DEC and village officials say they isolated the likely cause to a compromised underground fuel line for the village's water treatment plant heating system. DEC Spill Response experts are overseeing development and implementation of a cleanup plan to address the spill, and the village has bypassed this reservoir while investigations of the drinking water supply continue and sampling results are analyzed.

People in the area are advised not to use tap water for drinking, cooking or making ice. State and county officials say it is OK to use the water for bathing and showering, as well as washing dishes or clothes.

Public schools are open Wednesday because they use well water from their own systems. The town hopes to have at least partial test results by Wednesday.

Cuomo has deployed more than 40,000 gallons of fresh water to New Paltz following the advisory.

"Protecting public health and safety is our top priority and with the potential source of this contamination now identified, our work to restore New Paltz's water system and put an end to this situation continues," Cuomo said. "As this happens, we will ensure residents continue to have access to clean water and the community has the support and access to resources that it needs."

The Village of New Paltz is distributing water to the general public between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

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