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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015


DiNapoli: Public Drinking Water Needs More Protection

June 19, 2017

New York's public water supplies need stronger protections to ensure clean drinking water and prevent contamination that could result in health problems, according to a report released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

"Clean drinking water is a precious resource that we should never take for granted," DiNapoli said. "Water contamination in Hoosick Falls, Newburgh and Long Island revealed our vulnerabilities. With the President proposing funding cuts to programs that help keep drinking water safe, the state and localities have to take the lead in strengthening safeguards for public water supplies and improve our response to contamination."

The President's proposed budget would cut the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget by nearly one-third. In numerous instances, the EPA has failed to set standards for contaminants with harmful health effects.

In New York state, the 2017-18 enacted state budget contains measures to improve drinking water safety. The measures require the state Health Department to identify certain substances as emerging contaminants and to test certain water systems for the presence of those contaminants, as well as notifying property owners if the contaminants reach certain levels.

DiNapoli recommends that the state also:

  • Create a statewide response plan, with public input, to effectively address drinking water contamination incidents;
  • Create a statewide program that would proactively monitor the health of residents exposed to drinking water contaminants;
  • Apply a more precautionary approach for contaminants that are unregulated at the federal level; and
  • Broaden the scope of review when identifying emerging contaminants.

The report also recommends that the state and localities fully inform the public of the potential health impacts of water contaminants.

Read the report here:

For access to state and local government spending, public authority financial data and information on 130,000 state contracts, visit Open Book New York. The easy-to-use website was created to promote transparency in government and provide taxpayers with better access to financial data.