Water is life. 

When you dip your finger in the cool water of an Upstate New York lake, that water is connected to all the water on the planet. You're touching all the water that has ever flowed. If you give the concept some thought, it's actually quite amazing and unifying. Water is the source of life, flowing through watersheds, streams, ponds, and lakes and into our lives. Water connects the land with the people to the people to one another. Without clean water, life cannot exist. Today, almost one billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. 

Water covers 2/3 of the surface of the earth but only 0.002% is drinkable. It's a problem on a global scale. But solving such a monumental issue starts at home. 

The importance of clean water has been highlighted in countless and heartbreaking ways in the past few years. From Flint, Michigan to Upstate New York, industrial and agricultural contamination has threatened the water sources of towns and villages across the country. Stories of contamination are unsettling because they pose such troubling questions. What would I do? How would I protect my family? Where would we go? Is my property now worthless?

Tomhannock | A Film About Water and Community

Water has always been closely tied to expansion. 

In the final years of the 19th century, the 4th wealthiest city in the United States, Troy, New York, needed to secure a more abundant water supply for its growing population. Troy was a powerhouse of American steel and textiles. A plan was devised to flood some of the best farmlands in Rensselaer County in the town of Pittstown.  Today, over a hundred years later, the mighty Tomhannock Reservoir is a cool, dark six-mile long jewel in the rural Rensselaer County hills.  The Reservoir provides high-quality drinking water to thousands of families, farms, and business through the Capital District of New York State. 

Just a few miles away, in the Village of Hoosick Falls, the residents get their water from private wells. Fears run high over contaminated drinking water after the discovery of elevated levels of PFOA, a byproduct of the Teflon manufacturing process. As the discovery of elevated PFOA levels in wells and ground water became known, the realization that it had been there a long time was terrifying for long-time residents. 

If water connects people in a community, the story of Hoosick Falls is an extreme example. Banding together to produce a larger voice, residents have made their fight into a national headline. The process is slow, but it is moving forward.  The Village of Hoosick Falls is a few miles away from the Reservoir, but might as well be a world away. Regular testing is performed on the water of the Tomhannock, and there is no PFOA contamination. Still, for the people of Hoosick Falls, it's like being a raft in the ocean and having no way to drink the water. 

Tomhannock is the story of our water and community. In the history of the reservoir, we find sacrifice and resilience. We find those same things in the people of Hoosick Falls. Water is life.


Tell your story. Become a contributor. 

Are you affected by the contamination in Hoosick Falls? Do you like around the Reservoir? Was your family part of the original settlement of farms that was displaced by the Reservoir's construction? Please reach out to use, we want to tell your story. 

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© 2017 Nor'easter Films | John Bulmer Photography | All Rights Reserved.