U.S. Water News Online
PUTNAM LAKE, N.Y. -- Drinking water from several wells
around the community of Putnam Lake has shown dangerous levels of
nitrate and the Putnam County Health Department is warning residents
not to give it to babies in any form.
The chemical can sicken or even kill children under 6 months old
and they should not be given the water straight, in formula or in
juice until homeowners test their well water, the department said.
In a four-page letter, the department says the chemical is
leaching into wells from poorly constructed or poorly maintained
Originally a rural summer community when it was settled in the
1930s, Putnam Lake's former summer homes on small lots now function
as year-round homes. Many of the septic systems and wells predate
current regulations requiring at least 100 feet between the two.
Michael Budzinski, the department's director of engineering, said
50 wells at homes, businesses and other establishments were tested
after a few routine samples showed high nitrate levels. The allowable
federal standard for nitrate in drinking water is 10 parts per
million and a third of the tests came back higher, he said.
Individuals older than 6 months can excrete extra nitrate. But
infants don't have this ability. Symptoms include blue skin and
shortness of breath. If left untreated, the condition can result in
The chemical, which can also come from fertilizer or animal waste,
isn't removed in boiling, freezing, filtering or letting the water
Budzinski said the Putnam Health Department contacted the
neighboring town of New Fairfield, Conn., which includes Ball Pond,
another one-time summer lake community next to Putnam Lake.
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