Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited Fort Drum to announce $27,000,000 in funding secured for the 10th Mountain Division in the recently passed bipartisan omnibus package. Senator Gillibrand fiercely advocated for this funding to be included in the FY22 spending package to ensure Fort Drum has a self-sufficient water supply that is secure, sustainable, and resilient. Specifically, this funding will support the construction of 5 new potable water wells, pumps, monitoring wells, and other essential mitigation measures to ensure safe and quality water for the 35,000 soldiers and civilians serving and living at the base.
During her visit, Senator Gillibrand met with soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division preparing for a rotational deployment. She also met with Major General Milford Beagle Jr. to discuss their priorities for New York’s service members, military families, and national security.
“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, only 5 of the existing 18 potable water wells at Fort Drum are producing water and even then the base must purchase 50% of the water supply from a municipal source. 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. Gillibrand 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.
This $27 million infusion of funding will 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 contaminants. 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.