Municipal Government

EPA Must Establish Drinking Water Standard

February 14, 2017
By Stephanie West

Albany, NY – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that New York State is formally calling on the federal Environmental Protection Agency to establish an official drinking water standard for the federally unregulated contaminant 1,4-dioxane.

Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA has primary authority to regulate drinking water quality. The Maximum Contaminant Level is the legal threshold set by the EPA limiting the amount of a given substance in public water systems.

“As new contaminants continue to emerge on a regular basis in communities across the nation, states should no longer be left to fend for themselves. The federal government should provide actionable guidance on best practices for removing 1,4-dioxane from drinking water, invest in cutting-edge treatment technologies, and set a MCL to protect public health,” said NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo. “If the EPA fails to act in a timely manner, New York State will convene an advisory panel of experts to set an MCL at the state level. Make no mistake, this is a national issue that demands a consistent, national standard, but New York State is prepared to act in the absence of federal leadership. We are collectively urging the EPA to promulgate a regulation that sets a clear, enforceable MCL for 1,4-dioxane in order to equitably protect not just New Yorkers, but all Americans,” continued Cuomo. To date, the EPA has not only failed to issue an MCL for this contaminant, but an existing federal loophole exempts public water systems serving less than 10,000 people from even testing for federally unregulated contaminants like 1,4-dioxane, said Cuomo.

Governor Cuomo has proposed a $2 billion investment in his Executive Budget proposal that would rebuild and repair the state’s critical water infrastructure. Last year, the Governor established the Water Quality Rapid Response Team to identify and address critical drinking water contamination concerns throughout the state. The Rapid Response Team has been working to swiftly identify and address drinking water quality issues across the state, and is moving ahead with an aggressive proposal to ensure sampling of all public water systems on Long Island — no matter their size. In September 2016, the New York State Department of Health also approved a new, full-scale treatment technology using the Advanced Oxidative Process to remove 1,4-dioxane from drinking water. This pilot project is essential as the state leverages new technologies to stay ahead of emerging water quality issues across New York. DEC will also begin requiring all State Superfund sites to test for 1,4-dioxane. Based on these sampling results, DEC will take appropriate enforcement action under its State Superfund authority to reduce 1,4-dioxane at its source.

February 13, 2017

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