New York Tweaks Clean Water Plan as Suppliers Call for More Time

By | December 24, 2019

New York would not issue violations against certain water suppliers who notify the public that they have too-high levels of certain industrial and synthetic chemicals under the latest plan to be proposed by state regulators.

Brad Hutton, deputy commissioner of the state’s Office of Public Health, told The Associated Press Wednesday that water systems could apply for a 24-month deferral as they install costly, new water treatment systems. Water suppliers concerned about insurance liability have said they will have to shut off wells to avoid providing consumers with contaminated water.

“We can rescind that deferral if we find a water system is not making adequate process,” Hutton said.

New York is inching closer to joining a handful of states trying to make sure that public water supplies don’t contain several industrial chemicals, including those found in some non-stick pots and pans, paint strippers, stain resistant clothing and firefighting foams.

In the absence of federal action, state health officials are working on a plan for setting drinking water limits of 10 parts per trillion for chemicals PFOA and PFOS.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that PFOA and PFOS could potentially be harmful in the long-run to the health of certain people and suggested that drinking water not contain levels of more than 70 parts per trillion, but that limit is voluntary.

New York health officials also want a limit of 1 part per billion for 1,4-dioxane, a synthetic chemical found in inks, adhesives and household products such as shampoos. Experts consider it a likely carcinogen and say it can easily find its way into groundwater.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration first proposed the new water standards last fall and the state’s health commissioner gave his OK to proposed limits in July.

Hutton said the state will be submitting tweaked regulations that will require another 45-day public comment period. The rules could then be approved as early as this spring.

Hutton stressed that the public will know if their water has high levels of contaminants, even if their water supply isn’t technically in violation of state rules.

“It’s important to us that the general public is well informed about the findings, the potential risks, and the actions that are taken to protect them,” he said.

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