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Concerns Raised about Changing NY Drinking-Water Regulations

PFOA and PFOS can be filtered from drinking water by reverse osmosis. (navintar/Adobe Stock)
PFOA and PFOS can be filtered from drinking water by reverse osmosis. (navintar/Adobe Stock)
February 5, 2020

ALBANY, N.Y. -- State lawmakers and environmental groups are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make the Department of Health withdraw proposed changes to regulations on some toxic chemicals.

The legislators and advocates made their request just before Tuesday's meeting of the Drinking Water Quality Council in Albany. In late 2018, the council recommended maximum contaminant levels for PFOA, PFOS, and 1-4 dioxane -- all unregulated chemicals linked to severe health impacts, including cancer. But Maureen Cunningham, senior director for clean water for Environmental Advocates of New York, said that two weeks ago, the Department of Health proposed adding a deferral provision to the regulations.

"It's taking away some of the public notification and transparency with the normal MCL process," she said, "so we're pushing back on that."

The proposed revisions would allow water suppliers that exceed the MCLs to apply for deferrals that could delay installing treatment technology for up to three years. Cunningham said she believes the revisions are unnecessary.

"Once the MCL is created," she said, "there's already a set of regulations that governs what water suppliers do when they exceed an MCL."

She added that the revisions also would end some of the public notifications required under MCL violations.

If the proposed deferrals remain in place, Cunningham said, her group will urge the Department of Health to strengthen and clarify the regulations before they're finalized.

"There's ambiguity in the way they've worded things," she said. "So, we'd like to make those regulations stronger, especially when it comes to public notification."

Once finalized, the MCLs for PFOA, PFOS and 1-4 dioxane will be the strictest in the country.

More information is online at health.ny.gov.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY