National Geographic : 1978 Jan
riverbank? What about the toxic chemicals in the water? The town of Queensbury can answer the last question. The community of 18,500, which spreads like a nibbled doughnut around Glens Falls, drinks river water purified by the most modern plant on the Hudson. "We Did It Ourselves" In the 1960's complaints about water qual ity in deteriorating wells, about low pressure, hardness, and taste sent water experts scram bling. They drilled test wells and even con sidered tapping Lake George, ten miles away. With six other towns, Queensbury undertook a water study and sought federal and state aid. But water was running out; in 1971 the town on its own turned to the Hudson. Now water superintendent Thomas Flaher ty wins nothing but compliments about taste and quantity. Summertime bans on car wash ing and lawn sprinkling are in the past. The automated five-million-dollar plant can treat five million gallons a day. Chemical com pounds and a granular activated-carbon filter cleanse the water of bacteria, heavy metals, and toxic chemicals. A tank larger than an Olympic swimming pool catches ten feet of sediment a year. "We wanted to discharge it into the river where it came from," Flaherty chuckled. "But EPA wouldn't let us. Said we'd be polluting. So we truck to a landfill." The restoration of the Hudson has meant more than nursing it back to health. It in volves saving what is left of natural shore- Families discover a river restored at Ulster Landing Park near the Kingston bridge.