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U.S. House passes a stopgap government funding bill; the Omicron variant is found in Minnesota; Biden administration revives the "Remain in Mexico" policy; and the Bidens light the National Christmas Tree.

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Proponents of NY Drinking Water Protection Seek Hochul's Approval

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Friday, October 22, 2021   

ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental groups want Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that mandates monitoring the state's drinking water for "emerging contaminants," including the widely used group of chemicals known as PFAS. The bill has passed both the state Assembly and Senate.

If it becomes law, said Rob Hayes, director of clean water for Environmental Advocates NY, every state water utility would be required to test for certain contaminants in drinking water. He said testing for the suggested 40 chemicals would help prevent harm, such as the crisis detected in 2015 in Hoosick Falls.

"We need to be proactive in protecting our drinking water," he said. "We should not allow contamination to fly under the radar for decades, and make people sick."

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency also announced a roadmap for PFAS pollution, which includes increasing monitoring, research and reporting requirements for toxic chemicals. However, Hayes said it wouldn't apply to small state water systems that are seeing a testing gap.

A letter signed by dozens of environmental groups said a toxic-chemical testing law created in response to the Hoosick Falls crisis wasn't implemented because the state Department of Health didn't provide a list of contaminants. Proponents of the bill now are insisting it be delivered to the governor as soon as possible.

"The Department of Health will have to begin a regulatory process that, within 90 days, will produce a final list of emerging contaminants for water utilities all across the state to test for," Hayes said. "So, the sooner the governor signs the bill, the sooner the communities will start finding out what's in their drinking water."

The testing suggestions include 27 PFAS chemicals and 13 additional "emerging contaminants" the EPA has identified as potentially harmful. The legislation also would require that the list of emerging contaminants must be updated every three years.


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