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A Simple Solution to the Impasse over Croton's Water

October 9, 2007

Ever since the Mayor’s scheme to adulterate Croton’s highly touted water with chemical additives was put forward, Crotonblog has been hoping someone would come forward with a solution. Suddenly it dawned on us! There is an uncomplicated way to give village residents a voice in their own future.

A Questionnaire Is the Answer
New York State law rules out a referendum in this case. But a questionnaire would be an entirely legal way to ascertain residents’ attitudes toward additives—one with plenty of precedent, and an eminently fair method of measuring public opinion.

As we all know, Croton is comfortable with questionnaires—in fact, Croton loves questionnaires. Consider these examples: To find out whether residents wanted changes in the Zoning Ordinance, Croton sent out a questionnaire that told the village what it wanted to know. To find out whether residents wanted a Community Center, and what facilities it should offer, Croton sent out a questionnaire and gathered the desired information.

But did Croton’s officials make any effort to ascertain residents’ opinions about injecting chemical additives into Croton’s water? No, Mayor Schmidt made absolutely no attempt to discover residents’ feelings. His actions say plainly, “Who gives a damn about what the people want?” To this we say, “Just a minute, Mr. Mayor. You work for us—not the other way around.”

Croton residents are understandably concerned about the long-term effects of a decision that is obviously being hastily pushed through at the behest of appointed officials who do not even live in Croton (the Village Manager, Village Engineer, and the head of the Water Department) and a contractor with a vested interest in the outcome.

These same officials won’t have to cook with, prepare infant formula with, or bathe or shower in Croton’s adulterated water. If the resolution were passed, we wouldn’t be surprised to see bottles of Evian or Poland Spring water begin to appear on their desks.

A Decision Too Important to Be Made in Haste
Crotonblog suggests that this proposed change to Croton’s world-famous water is much too important to be made hastily. It is also too crucial to be left to what may be a majority of one—a lone swing vote among the five persons elected to serve the people of Croton. Please note that we said “five persons elected to serve the people of Croton”—not “five persons elected to decide what—in their opinion—is best for the people of Croton.”

One could hardly call a three-to-two vote in favor of additives an example of participatory democracy at work. A quick and simple way for Croton’s five elected officials to gauge the sentiment of residents would be through an inexpensive questionnaire.

Mailed to residents who are registered voters and also available at the Village offices, it need only contain a single question: “Do you want zinc orthophosphate or any other chemical additive injected into Croton’s water?” with a place to mark “Yes” or “No” in ink. To avoid repeat voting, ballots should be signed by voters with their names and addresses. These can be checked for validity by comparison with voter registration records. It would be as simple as that.

Speak Up Now!
This country is spending trillions of our hard-earned tax dollars to bring democracy to the people of Iraq. But democracy, like charity, should begin at home. How about a little old-fashioned democracy for the people of Croton through the medium of a questionnaire?

Residents! Make your voices heard by mail, in e-mails to Trustees, comments to Crotonblog and letters to The Gazette, as well as at the next Village Board meeting, Monday, Oct. 15, 2007.

Demand that the Village Board refrain from voting on any resolution affecting the quality of Croton’s water until the people have spoken through a questionnaire. A list of the e-mail addresses of elected officials follows.

Village of Croton-on-Hudson board of Trustees

Left to right:

Crotonblog’s advice to residents is to speak now to stop questionable additives from being forced on you, or forever hold your peace. Oops, we could also have said: Speak now to stop questionable additives from being forced on you, or forever hold your nose as you drink Croton’s water.


On October 13, 2007 3:23 PM, KWilly said:

If the Mayor was wise he would deal with this issue better. If he has enough information to believe that this additive is safe then he should bring it to the public’s attention and have the open government that he campaigned and promised for in 2005. Why is there a rush to pass it now? The Mayor should attempt to build consensus on this issue by perhaps disclosing more information and by having a work session where he brings all his adversaries to the table and some of his allies who are unsure. At this table they should have Dan Ferguson because he was the first one to publicly bring up the issue, A CrotonBlog Representative because they have alot of influence in the community even if though the Mayor is attempting to blacklist them, Fran Allen because she has been speaking out about environmental issues, Bob Wintermeier because He wanted more info and Maria Cudequest because believe it or not she has alot of influence over alot of people. It is better to unite people instead of keeping them divided and the best way to do this is to get everyone involved in the decision making process. If this group of people needs more time than maybe they should start a citizens committee.

Kevin W. Davis

On October 11, 2007 8:41 PM, weewill said:

Exactly my point Logician. Thanks for your words of wisdom. You hit the nail right on the head. No one can tell where I’ve gotten my information because it doesn’t exist to make an informed, responsible decision on a questionnaire or any where else.

And I sumit to one and all that neither the Mayor, the Board members or The Chazen Company have it either. It’s appears to be a relatively new process and no comprehensive evaluation has been done to determine both immediate and long-term, cumulative health effects - cumulative being the key word.

That information is simply not available and until we have answers, it’s not worth the chance .

Please, no questionnaire- we need the facts before we can intelligently expess an opinion …

On October 11, 2007 5:14 PM, TeaDrinker said:

I have been out of town and am just catching up on the water controversy. The idea of ascertaining how residents feel about chemical additives before going forward is soundly based in the democratic process. It takes decision-making that could affect infants and growing children out of the hands of five politicians.

To those who make the point that chlorine is already added to our water so as to ease acceptance of zinc orthophosphate, I would say this: All additives are not created equal. The addition of chlorine is mandated by more than a local law, and is done for reasons of public health and safety. Chlorine and its byproducts are easily filtered out.

I don’t know where “weewill” is getting his or her information, but it is incorrect. The solution for someone unhappy with chemical additives basically intended to extend the life of Croton’s cast-iron pipes is not just to go to a local hardware store and “get a filter.” Very specific types of activated charcoal filters remove lead. (Consumers should always examine the label on filters for specific information about the substances targeted for removal.)

Reverse osmosis filters to remove zinc orthophosphate are (a) larger and more complicated; (b) more expensive; and (c) consume more water in the filtering process. Such filters can literally turn salt water into fresh water, and are widely used to make brackish waters usable for agricultural purposes. Their one drawback, and it’s a big one, is that yield is poor when compared to input. Think your combined water bill and sewage “rents” (what a trick they put over with that one!) are high now? Few homeowners would consider a system to be low in operating cost if it produced one gallon of filtered water for five or more gallons of water consumed in the filtering process.

I have heard it said that Croton, once home to many railroad employees, is now too expensive for them to live here. But there’s no reason why high-salaried career officials cannot live in Croton. Perhaps if the village passed a law requiring such officials to live here they would be less likely to try to foist chemical additives on village residents.

On October 10, 2007 8:59 AM, weewill said:

No! A questionnaire is not the answer!

There is no answer! And there will not be an answer until we know for certain what the long-range, cumulative effects of such a chemical additive are known. We know our water is first-rate and pure now … why muddy it up with unknown and unproven chemicals?

We don’t have the facts nor does the Mayor. Keep it simple. Buy a filter if you’ve bought into the fear factor being “poured down our throats.”


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