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Environmentalists Urge Quick Decision On New Water Quality Standards

WikiMedia Commons

Environmentalists are urging a New York state panel on water quality standards to meet its October 2nd deadline to set new acceptable levels of toxic chemicals in public water supplies.

The Drinking Water Quality Council was created by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature in the spring of 2017, in response to a contaminated water supply in Hoosick Falls New York. The village housed factories that manufactured Teflon, and used PFOA and PFOS in the process, which leached into the water. Liz Moran, with Environmental Advocates, says the Council should set new, lower minimum standards for the presence of the chemicals in public water supplies, and then facilitate testing of drinking water throughout New York.

“What’s really scary is, right now, we don’t test statewide for these chemicals,” said Moran, who said the substances could be “lurking” in New Yorkers’ public water supplies without anyone knowing. 

Moran says the health department currently has the power, even without recommendations from the Council, to enact stricter standards for the potential carcinogens and require more testing. 

A spokesman for the state health department, Gary Holmes, says “the state is taking aggressive actions to ensure New Yorkers are not exposed to unregulated contaminants in their water,” but did not say when the recommendations might be finished, saying “it’s an ongoing process.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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