New law requires drinking water testing and notification program

Albany /
| 25 Dec 2021 | 05:25

    This week, clean water advocates applauded Governor Hochul for signing A.126-A/S.1759-A, which will inform New Yorkers about what’s in their water. The bill was sponsored by Senator James Skoufis and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried. The Governor and the State Legislature also agreed to changes to the bill which will go into effect next year. The agreement establishes New York’s first list of emerging contaminants. Every water utility across the state will be required to test for those contaminants and notify the public if dangerous levels are found. Over the last several years, drinking water contamination events across New York have revealed the need for comprehensive, statewide drinking water testing. Cancer-causing PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” have been detected at dangerous levels in Hoosick Falls, Newburgh, Petersburgh, Rockland County, Poestenkill, and dozens of communities on Long Island. The agreement reached today will mean:

    On the NYS Department of Health’s (DOH) first list of emerging contaminants, which will be published next year, 23 PFAS will be included.

    Fourteen other toxic chemicals, including 4 PFAS, will be included on DOH’s second emerging contaminant testing list, unless vetoed by DOH and the NYS Drinking Water Quality Council.

    DOH will be required to update the list and add new contaminants at least once every three years.

    Before testing can begin, DOH must set notification levels for the 23 PFAS identified as emerging contaminants. If a contaminant exceeds its notification level in drinking water, the public must be informed of it. Advocates are now urging DOH to set the lowest and most health-protective notification level for each PFAS. There is no known safe level of PFAS in drinking water.

    Assembly Health Committee Chair and bill sponsor Richard Gottfried said, “The new emerging contaminants law is a crucial step in ensuring public access to clean, safe drinking water. New York has been a leader on water quality protection, and we must remain pro-active in monitoring and enforcing the most protective environmental health standards. I commend Governor Hochul, Senate sponsor James Skoufis, and all the advocates and communities across the State whose work helped get this signed into law.”