In the wake of water contaminations in communities like Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and Newburgh, New York officials set new drinking water standards.
But environmental advocates, including Liz Moran of NYPIRG, say they don't go far enough.
“Government failed when it came to Hoosick Falls,” Moran said. “Now is the opportunity to right that wrong and that's why thousands of New Yorkers are demanding New York state set the path for future generations and ensure when we turn on our taps, drinking water will be safe for everyone.”
A range of environmental organizations, including Environmental Advocates of New York and the New York Public Interest Research Group unveiled Monday nearly 4,000 public comments urging the state to issue more stringent drinking water guidelines.
“There are 11 million New Yorkers with 1.4 dioxane in their drinking water and 1.5 million with PFOA and PFOS in their drinking water,” Moran said. “That is just the places that have conducted this testing.”
Assemblyman Phil Steck says there is room for the Legislature to act if the Department of Health does not.
“That authority can always be taken back by the Legislature and the Legislature can act at any time,” Steck said.
Steck says the current standards for chemicals like PFOA and PFOS reflect an old way of regulating drinking water that are not aggressive enough.
“We had a different concept 50 years ago,” Steck said. “The condition of the environment is not what it is today. We have to expect more from government and government has to expect more from the private sector.”
In a statement, a Department of Health spokesman said, “Using the best available science, the Drinking Water Quality Council delivered on its initial charge by recommending the most protective standards in the nation for PFOA and PFOS, and a first in the nation standard for 1.4-dioxane. Our work is not done, and as we move forward we fully expect to begin discussions on addressing additional contaminants of concern. We look forward to conducting a diligent review and summary of the public comments received as part of the MCL rulemaking process. New York State’s commitment to protecting public health and the environment is unwavering."