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Current Fort Drum Water Production Wells Are Located Within the Wheeler Sack Industrial Complex – Making Supply Vulnerable to Contaminants; Base Must Rely On Outside Sources for 50% Of Water Needs

Senators Fiercely Advocated For Funding To Be Included In FY22 Bipartisan Omnibus Spending Package To Make Water Supply Secure & Resilient for Mission Readiness  

Schumer, Gillibrand: Funding Will Give North Country Troops, Families, & Children The Safe Clean Drinking Water They Deserve!

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that following their staunch advocacy for the soldiers and families of Fort Drum, the senators have secured $27,000,000 in the recently unveiled omnibus-spending package for Fiscal Year 2022 to replace the existing water supply that is vulnerable to multiple forms of contamination, requiring Fort Drum to purchase half of its water supply from a municipal source. The senators said that this funding will provide a safe, secure water supply for 35,000 soldiers and civilians serving at the base and contribute to mission readiness. This project, once complete and through continued partnership with the installation’s municipal water supplier, will ensure Fort Drum is water and energy resilient far into the future.

“For far too long, our troops and those working at Fort Drum have not been able to meet their daily water needs. That’s why I made it a top priority in this year’s budget negotiations to ensure that our brave troops right here in the North Country were able to get the resources they needed to fully address this risk to mission readiness,” said Senator Schumer. “I am proud to be able to deliver this $27 million investment to finally replace Fort Drum’s aging well infrastructure, provide clean drinking water to soldiers and families and improve mission readiness. I will always fight to ensure Fort Drum has reliable and resilient infrastructure for its critical missions. Access to clean water is a right, and I will always fight keep New Yorkers and our brave service members safe and healthy.”

“Fort Drum is one of our nation’s most important military bases,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is unacceptable that it cannot independently meet its water needs. I’m proud to have fought to secure this funding to replace Fort Drum’s aging water infrastructure and ensure that the 35,000 soldiers and civilians who live and serve there stay healthy as they train and prepare for deployment. I’ll keep fighting to make sure our armed services have what they need to defend our country.”

Currently Fort Drum is unable to meet its demand for water for operating the base. Only 5 of the existing 18 potable water wells are producing water and even then the base must purchase 50% of the water supply from a municipal source. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that all existing drinking water production wells at Fort Drum are located within the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield (WSAAF) industrial complex - making the existing water supply vulnerable to multiple water quality contamination threats.

These threats include aircraft refueling operations, solid waste landfills, hazardous waste sites, fire suppression operations, and hazardous material storage. EPA enforcement actions have even occurred in the past when Fort Drum uses water strictly from the municipal supplier due to the formation of carcinogenic disinfection byproducts in the distribution system. The senators said that these consistent water problems put the base at risk for failing to support critical mission essential deployments, daily operations, and training missions on Fort Drum.

The senators said that the $27 million infusion of funding that they secured, however, will finally help address this longstanding water problem by securing new production wells to safely meet the water need.  Specifically, constructing 5 new potable water wells, pumps, monitoring wells, and other essential mitigation measures to ensuring water quality. The proposed new production wells will also be securely distanced from all industrial operations to ensure the water produced for soldiers and family members is free of all detectable industrial contaminants. Schumer and Gillibrand said this long overdue investment will ensure self-sufficient clean water at Fort Drum for critical missions and the thousands of families there for generations to come.