Albany, NY - February 11, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today 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.
Following a roundtable discussion on Long Island water quality organized by Governor Cuomo at Stony Brook University, the following individuals joined Governor Cuomo in signing a letter formally calling on the EPA to fulfill its obligation and set a MCL for 1,4-dioxane:
- New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker
- New York State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos
- Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
- New York State Assembly Environmental Conservation Chair Steve Englebright
- Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken
- Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn
- Suffolk County Water Authority CEO Jeff Szabo
- Stony Brook Center for Clean Water Technology Co-Director Dr. Harold Walker
The letter also makes clear that this is a national issue, but if the federal government does not take action to regulate 1,4-dioxane, New York will move to set a state MCL:
"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.
"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.”
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.
Despite the federal government’s inaction, New York State has stepped up under the leadership of Governor Cuomo to fill the void and ensure access to clean drinking water statewide.
- Most recently, Governor Cuomo proposed an historic $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.
- Governor Cuomo also recently awarded $5 million to the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology at SUNY Stony Brook to leverage innovation and promote advances in clean water technology. An emphasis of this work will include the development and advancement of treatment technologies for 1,4-dioxane.
- The Department of Environmental Conservation is also taking action to prevent the discharge of 1,4-dioxane from laundromats by requiring certain laundromats in Suffolk County to sample for 1,4 Dioxane as a condition of their new State Pollution Discharge Elimination System , or SPDES, permits.
- 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.