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New York Lawmakers Approve More Monitoring Of Contaminants In Drinking Water

NEW YORK NOW - A bill aimed at identifying potentially harmful chemicals in drinking water has passed both houses of the state Legislature.

Sen. James Skoufis, a Democrat from the Hudson Valley, sponsors a bill approved by the state Legislature this week that would require water utilities of all sizes in New York to test for a list of potential contaminants.

Under that bill, the list would be created by the state Department of Health within 90 days of its approval by the governor, and updated every three years.

It would also require the agency to promulgate regulations on how those contaminants would be monitored. That would be due within 90 days of the list being published.

“We all take water for granted. We bathe in it. We cook with it. We drink it. It’s not until something goes wrong with the water that we realize how dependent we are on it,” Skoufis said.

“The issue oftentimes is, we don’t know that there is something wrong with the water.”

The primary focus of the bill is the PFAS family of chemicals, which are believed to raise the risk of cancer. Those have also been the target of recent legislative actions, such as a ban on burning firefighting foam, but those aren’t the only contaminants on that list.

Under the bill, the 13 chemicals currently monitored in larger water systems would be tested for in all water systems, regardless of size. Smaller water utilities currently don’t have to test for the full spectrum of potential contaminants.

The bill would also add 27 other emerging contaminants for utilities to monitor, Skoufis said.

But the concerns about emerging contaminants are not limited to drinking water.

“Clearly, there are developing links between these carcinogens, and these very dangerous chemicals, and people’s health, so whether it’s water or air, we’ve got to be taking it all seriously,” Skoufis said.

If signed, the bill would go into effect immediately. It has already passed both houses of the Legislature, but has not yet been delivered to the governor.