From Hoosick Falls to Newburgh/Rockland to Long Island, toxic chemicals such as PFAS (aka ‘forever chemicals’) have polluted New Yorkers’ drinking water. But many drinking water supplies across the state still haven’t been tested for these dangerous substances, leaving more than 2 million New Yorkers vulnerable to potential contamination crises.
The need for an emerging contaminant list and testing in all water utilities was recognized by New York years ago, in the Emerging Contaminant Monitoring Act (ECMA) of 2017, which tasked the Department of Health with creating a list of emerging contaminants that all water utilities must test for in drinking water and notify the public if elevated levels are detected. The ECMA further fills a gap in federal emerging contaminant legislation, which only requires testing in utilities serving over 10,000 and leaves smaller communities at risk. However, four years later, DOH has yet to implement this landmark law.
In response to DOH’s inaction, a bill to establish New York’s first emerging contaminant testing list is pending before the NY Legislature. This bill is an essential first step to ensure safe drinking water for all New Yorkers, by identifying potentially harmful chemicals for monitoring in all water utilities. Through understanding what chemicals are present in water systems, proactive actions can be taken to protect the health of New Yorkers. Repetition of the crises of Hoosick Falls and Newburgh is unacceptable, where communities drank PFAS-contaminated water for decades before the contamination was uncovered.
The health of New Yorkers, especially those in small communities, should not be placed at risk any longer. Every New Yorker should know what’s in their water. Urge your state lawmakers to pass legislation requiring that every water utility in the state expand testing for a priority list of chemicals that could be making our communities sick.
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