The New York State Senate today announced a measure to increase access to important information about drinking water quality has become law. The bill (S6655), sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau), creates new requirements for the state to publicly post information about emerging contaminants that could affect people’s health. It is one in a series of actions recently called for by the Senate Majority to ensure the protection of drinking water across the state.
Senator Hannon, Chair of the Senate Health Committee, said, “This legislation builds on several years of work on clean water including our historic $2.5 billion investment and creation of the Drinking Water Quality Council to make recommendations on new state standards for certain contaminants. This new law makes sure information regarding our state's water systems and any contaminants is readily available to the public on the Department of Health's website. Ensuring safe drinking water is a top priority and ensuring easy access to information should be as well.”
The law requires the state Department of Health (DOH) to post information on its website about emerging contaminant notifications levels and create educational materials so that the information is easily accessible to residents and public water system managers.
Currently, finding such information can be difficult but creating an accessible link to the information on DOH’s website would make it easier to find important details. The information would include notification levels for any emerging contaminants declared to be significant hazards to public health when present in drinking water, as well as water system identification number, name and type; water department contacts; public notices; and water-related violations and enforcement actions taken by the state and federal government.
Enacting the bill into law was among four priority actions recently called for by Senators as part of a push to get DOH and DEC to restart the stalled process to enact protective drinking water standards for the emerging contaminants 1,4-dioxane, PFOA, and PFOS. Today was the deadline for the state’s Drinking Water Quality Council – created by the Senate to help the state reach a scientific consensus to establish standards for the contaminants – to submit recommendations to the Department of Health, but the Council has not met for months.
Today, DOH finally announced that a meeting will be held in coming weeks and grants will be allocated as part of the $2.5 billion in clean water infrastructure funding secured by the Senate last year. While these are good first steps, the Senate is committed to holding the state accountable for establishing standards as soon as possible and enabling additional infrastructure to move forward so that drinking water is protected throughout New York.