Senate Passes Bill To Protect Water Supplies

Hugh T. Farley

March 14, 2008

The New York State Senate today passed legislation increasing penalties for contamination of public drinking water supplies. The bill, sponsored by Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady), was prompted by concerns over pollution of the Great Flats Aquifer in Schenectady County, which serves Schenectady, Glenville, Niskayuna, Rotterdam, and Scotia.

"Clean drinking water is critically important, but the laws protecting our water supplies are seriously out of date," Senator Farley explained. He said that the current penalties for polluters of drinking water have remained unchanged since 1885.

The Senate-passed legislation would fine polluters up to $1,000 per day for each violation, impose prison sentences of up to a year in jail for the worst offenders, and require convicted lawbreakers to pay reparations for damages. The previous fine, a flat $200, failed to deter polluters, who treated the penalty as a cost of doing business.

Senator Farley's bill is supported by the New York State Association of County Health Officials, the League of Women Voters of Schenectady County, the Schenectady County Intermunicipal Watershed Board, the City of Schenectady, the Town of Glenville, the Town of Rotterdam, and the Schenectady County Legislature.

Following Senate passage, it now goes to the Assembly where it is sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (D - Manhattan).