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NY Drinking Water Quality, More “In Balance” in EPA Budget

Advocates argue that getting the EPA back into the business of protecting small rivers and streams is crucial to all living creatures in New York state. Image by Suandsoe/Wikimedia
Advocates argue that getting the EPA back into the business of protecting small rivers and streams is crucial to all living creatures in New York state. Image by Suandsoe/Wikimedia
June 23, 2014

NEW YORK CITY - It's decision time this week for the federal budget. But there's concern among some that opponents of restoring tougher clean water regulations will try to knock out Environmental Protection Agency funding that impacts drinking water in New York state.

Judy Einach is executive director of the New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. She said her organization supports a proposal pending in Congress that would clarify the EPA's jurisdiction to protect the quality of small rivers and streams.

But, according to Einach, some power, construction and big agricultural companies are trying to kill funding for enforcement.

"It becomes really important that the EPA is the agency that not only sets the standard," said Einach, "but has the ability to enforce those standards to protect all of us."

Opponents of the rules have said they're not needed, and will be bad for business.

Einach maintained that getting the EPA back into the business of protecting small rivers and streams is crucial to all living creatures in New York state.

Steve Moyer, vice president for government affairs at Trout Unlimited, said Congress should allow the rule-making process to go forward and keep the funding intact, because the comment period on rules restoring the EPA's authority extends into October.

"It matters a lot in New York," said Moyer. "These small headwaters streams are collecting pollutants that would otherwise go down into the rivers. They're critical to the health of drinking waters downstream."

Moyer added the issue could become more pressing for New Yorkers.

"It's not come to New York much yet," said Moyer. "But if gas development comes into an area, and these streams aren't protected, you're likely to have more pollution problems than you would when these streams are protected by the Clean Water Act."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY