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Council Will Address Emerging Water Quality Issues

  • 25 September 2017
  • scalera

Council Will Address Wide Array of Emerging Water Quality Issues

Recommendations to Establish Maximum Contaminant Levels for PFOA, PFOS, 1,4-dioxane will be Council's First Task

Council's First Meeting to be Held on October 2 on Long Island with Second Meeting in Capital Region Later This Year

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his appointees to the 12-member Drinking Water Quality Council that will guide New York's actions to ensure all communities across the state, regardless of their size, have access to clean drinking water. The Council will address a wide range of emerging water quality issues, and solicit outside industry experts to complement the expertise of council members where appropriate.

The Council's first task will be to make recommendations to establish enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for three priority emerging contaminants—unregulated by the federal government—that have been found in New York: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and 1,4-dioxane. The Council will meet for the first time on October 2 at 10 a.m. at SUNY Stony Brook in Stony Brook, NY, with a second meeting in the Capital Region later this year.

"New York is once again stepping up as the federal government continues to ignore its duty to provide clear guidance to protect drinking water quality," Governor Cuomo said. "Using the best available science, and tapping an array of experts, this new Council will provide science-based recommendations for the development of regulations to assure that good quality drinking water remains available to all New Yorkers. Water quality is a national issue that requires consistent national standards, but New York can no longer afford to wait."

Enacted as part of the FY2018 Budget, the Council will identify strategies to protect the quality of New York's drinking water from emerging, federally-unregulated contaminants. While the budget required water systems to test for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4 dioxane, it will be the Council's duty to review the science on these chemicals and provide guidance to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) on setting MCLs for these contaminants. MCLs are the drinking water standards set forth in the state sanitary code that water systems must achieve to be in compliance with regulations.

The Council will also make recommendations to the NYSDOH on the following actions:

  • appropriate timeframes and frequencies for testing emerging contaminants;
  • best practices for public notifications in the event an emerging contaminant is found above a notification level in drinking water; and
  • whether and when to remove contaminants from an emerging contaminants list.

The 12-member Council will be chaired by New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and include State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos, with six other individuals appointed by the Governor for their expertise in water operations, risk assessment, microbiology, and environmental engineering. The Council's final four members were appointed by the Governor at the recommendation of the Temporary President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly. These members include water operations representatives and representatives of the public who have a background or expertise in toxicology or health risk assessment.

The Governor's appointees are:

  • New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, MD (Designee: Brad Hutton, Deputy Commissioner, Office of Public Health)
  • New York State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos (Designee: Ken Lynch, Executive Deputy Commissioner)
  • Dr. Roger Sokol, PhD, Director, Division of Environmental Health Protection, Center for Environmental Health, New York State Department of Health
  • Scott Stoner, Chief, Standards and Water Quality Assessment Section, Division of Water, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Stanley J. Carey, Massapequa Water District Superintendent, Long Island Water Conference Chairman
  • Dr. Joseph H. Graziano, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Professor, Environmental Health Sciences and Pharmacology
  • Dr. Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Darrin Fresh Water Institute Associate Director and Professor
  • Dr. Harold Walker, Stony Brook University Department of Civil Engineering Professor and Chair, Stony Brook Center for Clean Water Technology Co-Director

Senate and Assembly appointees are:

  • Sarah Jocelyn Meyland, J.D., Associate Professor, New York Institute of Technology
  • Steven Schindler, Director, Water Quality: NYC Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Supply
  • Kris Dimmick, P.E., PWLF, Professional Engineer, BCA Engineers & Architects
  • Paul Granger, P.E., Superintendent, Port Washington Water District

NYS Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said, "The Drinking Water Quality Council will be a crucial tool to help ensure New Yorkers maintain access to clean and safe drinking water. Kris Dimmick and Paul Granger, the State Senate's two appointments to the Council, will certainly add valuable knowledge and experience on this overall issue. The formation of the Council builds upon the historic investment of $2.5 billion, advocated by Senate Republicans and approved in the state budget, for clean water projects throughout the state."

NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "The Assembly Majority strongly supports proactive measures that ensure New Yorkers have access to the highest quality drinking water. By establishing the Drinking Water Quality Council, we can be confident that New York's most qualified experts will have a hand in protecting one of our most precious natural resources and safeguarding public health."

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Clean drinking water is essential to good health.  The Drinking Water Quality Council is going to provide important guidance to the Department that will increase the effectiveness of our efforts to protect the quality of New York's drinking water supply. I am delighted to be serving as the chairman of this important body and am grateful to Governor Cuomo for assembling this distinguished panel of experts."

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Securing the safety of our water resources is central to protecting the quality of life of all New Yorkers."  "By establishing the Drinking Water Quality Council, Governor Cuomo is solidifying his national leadership in addressing water contamination and developing strong standards in absence of federal action.  DEC staff look forward working with the other council members to quickly develop the needed solutions."


NYS Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon said, "The Drinking Water Quality Council brings together key stakeholders to identify and protect New Yorkers from the unregulated contaminants that threaten drinking water quality in New York State. The Senate applauds this measure, which will protect public health and help ensure that New York maintains access to clean drinking water for generations to come."


NYS Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Thomas O' Mara said, "The work of the Water Quality Council is a critical step toward ensuring the effectiveness and timeliness of New York State's short- and long-term response to the fundamental challenge of clean water.  The Senate looks forward to working with Governor Cuomo and the Assembly to achieve a water quality future across New York that is second to none."


NYS Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried said, "From Long Island to Buffalo, New Yorkers should feel confident that the state is committed to ensuring the best quality drinking water no matter where you live. The Drinking Water Quality Council will conduct a careful review and develop a comprehensive action plan to safeguard our most precious natural resource."


NYS Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Steve Englebright said, "These superb appointments of qualified scientists will help the legislature and governor of NY to develop new policy and new law to help meet the challenge of protecting ground and surface drinking water, and the public's health."


The Council will meet:

October 2 at 10 a.m. 

SUNY Stony Brook, Charles B. Wang Center

100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook, NY.

All meetings will be open to the public, webcast, and subject to Open Meetings Law. Members of the public will have an opportunity to make public comment, and the council will be required to receive public and stakeholder comments before advancing recommendations to the NYSDOH. 

For more information about New York State's efforts to ensure drinking water quality, please visit herehere and here.