Senate Majority Advances Legislation To Improve Water Protections During Water Week

April 27, 2021

Today, in recognition of Water Week, the Senate Democratic Majority will advance legislation to protect water quality and preserve New York State’s natural resources.

This package will establish mandatory water testing for lead contamination in state and local parks, ban the use of harmful pesticides in children’s day camps, and prohibit the use of toxic coal tar in pavement production.

This legislative package will also encourage cost recovery by the Environmental Facilities Corporation and provide protections for New York taxpayers.

This suite of legislation builds on the Senate Democratic Majority’s work to protect the quality of our drinking water, promote clean energy and create a cleaner, more environmentally friendly New York.

“Water quality and its protection are critical to the wellbeing of our communities.” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “New Yorkers deserve to be assured of the safety of their water, and we must protect this invaluable resource. I commend the sponsors for their leadership in protecting our potable water sources from pollution and ensuring that every New Yorker has a water supply they can trust.”

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The legislation being passed by the Senate Majority includes:

  • Water Testing for Lead In Public Parks: This bill, S.1256A, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Senator Michael Gianaris, will require testing for lead contamination in drinking water in public parks at least once every three years to ensure proper continual monitoring and remediation of drinking water quality in public parks.
  • Children’s Camp Pesticide Ban: This bill, S.4478A, sponsored by Senator Samra Brouk, prohibits the use of pesticides at children’s overnight or summer day camps that will help protect the water supply at these facilities and neighboring properties.
  • Coal Tar Ban: This bill, S.4095B, sponsored by Senator James Sanders Jr., will prohibit the sale and use of oil pavement products containing coal tar, a toxic material that can contaminate surface waters and groundwater.
  • Recovery Cost Restrictions: This bill, S.956, sponsored by Senator James Gaughran, will prohibit parties found to be responsible for pollution that exceed federal and state water goals and standards from benefiting from state assistance payments or reimbursements granted to municipalities that expend these funds to clean up contamination caused by polluters.
  • List of Emerging Contaminants: This bill S.1759, sponsored by Senator James Skoufis will add additional chemicals to the list of emerging contaminants that will be required to be tested for in drinking water.

Bill Sponsor Senate Majority Deputy Leader Miacheal Gianaris, said “Our country and our state have seen the challenges posed by failing to protect our water supply and the damage caused to our water quality as a result. I’m pleased to support these bills, including my legislation to address lead in our drinking water.”

Bill Sponsor, Senator Samra Brouk, said “Summer is almost here, and parents are beginning to plan summer activities, including signing their children up for camp. After long winter days of being indoors due to COVID-19, we know that the demand for summer camps will be higher than ever this year—and we should make the health and safety of the children attending those camps our top priority.

I am proud to pass S.4478A, which prohibits the use of pesticides at children’s overnight or summer day camps. This bill, along with the other bills in this package, will help protect New York’s water supply and keep our children, families, and communities healthy.”

Bill Sponsor Senator James Gaughran, said, “Deep-pocketed corporate polluters who contaminate our drinking water should pay for the costs of cleaning it up. My legislation will close a loophole that polluters have sought to exploit by limiting their financial liability for the contamination they caused. As former Chair of the Suffolk County Water Authority, the nation’s largest sole source aquifer water provider, I know how important clean and safe drinking water is, and I’m glad the Senate is advancing this important package of water legislation today.”

Bill Sponsor, Senator James Sanders Jr., said “I am proud to sponsor this bill to protect against pollutants like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, a known carcinogen to humans and poisonous to aquatic life. It is critical that we take action to combat the harmful effects these chemicals have on our ecosystem and waterways. I commend my colleagues for passing this common-sense legislative package, and will continue to stand up for New Yorker’s public health and safety.”

Bill Sponsor, Senator James Skoufis, said “I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the Senate and environmental advocates across the state and country as we pass this historic legislative package here in New York. This is a momentous step in protecting the health of all New Yorkers. My legislation (S.1759) will close the existing loophole in New York’s Emerging Contaminant Monitoring Act enacted in 2017, and, when signed into law, will protect over 2.5 million New Yorkers who currently do not benefit from testing of dangerous chemicals in their drinking water. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the state Legislature, and environmental advocates in ensuring our water is protected.”

Senator Jamaal Bailey said, “Our water supply is precious and vital. The legislation set forth in this package by my colleagues seeks to ensure that our water supply remains safe and is monitored accordingly, prohibiting the sale of known toxins, as well as holding bad actors accountable and preventing them from benefiting from their malfeasance. It is crucial that we take steps to address and remedy and protect our water supply in New York. I would like to thank Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, the bill sponsors, and all of my colleagues in government for prioritizing these issues and taking the necessary steps to address them.”

Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, “April 25th, 2021 marked seven years since the beginning of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and the community is still suffering the longstanding consequences. This anniversary reminds us of our responsibility to ensure safe and high-quality drinking water for all. By enacting legislation to improve our water monitoring and management, New York State can lead in our belief that access to clean water is a human right. I am proud to join my colleagues today in passing this water protection legislation.”

Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “Clean drinking water is a basic human right, and its protection needs to be a priority for the health and well-being of our communities. Across New York State, our aging infrastructure has caused contamination to our water supplies, and yet, there’s been little municipalities can do about it. This important slate of legislation furthers our commitment to protecting our drinking water and ensures routine testing for an increase of dangerous contaminants, none of which should ever be allowed in our water sources. I’m proud to work with my colleagues to require increased transparency of these harmful substances and to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of where they live, have access to clean water.”

Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Clean and safe drinking water is a basic human right. New York State cannot allow another town to suffer from contaminated water like Hoosick Falls did in 2015. This slate of bills makes sure New York improves testing of contaminants in drinking water, including in the water fountains at public parks. I appreciate Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ commitment to protecting this essential resource used by all New Yorkers.”

Senator Robert Jackson said, “As a staunch advocate for environmental justice representing a majority-minority and working-class district that has struggled with access to clean water for decades, this legislation is important to me. As the water protectors at Standing Rock reminded us, “Water Is Life.” It’s why I sponsored the Clean Air and Water Constitutional Amendment earlier this session and it’s why I’m proud to sponsor this package today. I stand with my colleagues to support legislation that helps ensure all New Yorkers have access to clean water.”

Senator Liz Krueger said, “Protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers is one of government’s most fundamental tasks, and clean water is a bedrock necessity for everyone. Although in recent years we have taken great strides toward ensuring safe water for all New Yorkers, there is still much work to be done. The bill’s we’re passing today make clear that we are dedicated to doing that work.”

Senator John Liu said, “There’s nothing more basic to life than safe clean drinking water.  Unfortunately, recent incidents here in New York and around the nation are chilling reminders that our water supply cannot be taken for granted.  These bills will help to ensure people will have full access to high quality water.”

Senator John Mannion said, “A beautiful landscape and access to clean drinking water brought people to Central New York in its earliest days. Today, preserving land and clean drinking water remain critically important to the vitality of the region. We must protect these natural assets, as the health of our community and economy depend upon it.”

Senator Rachel May said, “Fresh water is one of our most precious resources, and New York State is richer in fresh water than almost anywhere in the world. We have a special responsibility to be good stewards of our water and protect it from contamination. For the sake of our children and everyone else who depends on clean drinking water, and for the benefit of our watersheds and fresh water ecosystems, and the ocean to which all our streams eventually feed, I applaud our conference for bringing forward this legislation.”

Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick said, “Our drinking water is one of our most important natural resources, and it is the most basic duty of government to ensure that all of our residents have access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. These new bills passed by the State Senate will require better monitoring of drinking water for toxic chemicals and hold polluters accountable for poisoning our water. Especially in Rockland County, where elevated levels of toxic chemicals have infiltrated the public water supply, I am proud to be fighting for a cleaner, greener, New York, where safe and clean drinking water is accessible for all.”

Senator Roxanne Persaud said, “This package of legislation will help the state to improve and protect our water quality. Water is life; therefore, having access to clean drinking water is essential. Taking multiple approaches to prevent water contamination from affecting our drinking water is not only a must but is a step in the right direction.”

Senator Sean Ryan said, “Every New Yorker deserves to have access to clean drinking water. The legislation we are passing today will take aggressive action to help ensure pesticides and other contaminants don’t make their way into our waterways and drinking water. These reforms will protect the health and safety of the people of New York State – especially our children, who are often at the greatest risk and the most impacted by contaminated water.”

Senator Julia Salazar said, “Protecting our communities from environmental pollutants is a critical step on the road to environmental justice. by conducting lead tests in our public parks, making tangible strides in limiting water pollution, and holding the worst polluters accountable, we can begin to right decades of wrongs that have left our most vulnerable communities disproportionately contaminated and harmed. New York must continue to lead in the fight against corporate greed and environmental injustices by passing laws that will protect and preserve the health and safety of our communities for generations to come.”

Senator Luis R. Sepúlveda said, “I am pleased to support my colleagues in expanding water protections in the state of New York by adding additional chemicals to the list of contaminants to regularly test for in drinking water, by more frequently testing drinking water in public parks, and by banning the sale and use of oil pavement products containing coal tar which have been proven to be toxic to nearby bodies of water. These bills are a necessary step in ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to safe and clean water.”

Senator Kevin Thomas said, “Clean water is one of our most precious natural resources. I am proud to join my Senate colleagues in supporting this important legislative package, which will ensure that our water is protected from contaminants and pollutants for generations to come.”

Robert Hayes, Director of Clean Water for Environmental Advocates NY, said, “Water is fundamental to life, but it is one of our most threatened resources. Today’s action by the Senate Majority moves New York another step closer to fully protecting its water. Particularly important today was passage of a bill to create an emerging contaminant testing list that will help ensure water contamination crises do not go undetected.  We thank the Senate for once again showing great leadership in making clean water a priority.”

Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “New York is leading on clean water with this package of legislation. These bills will reduce environmental contamination and hold polluters accountable for ensuring our drinking water is clean. We look forward to also seeing the State Legislature pass legislation to get more lead out of school drinking water this session. Thank you to the State Senate for prioritizing the environment.”

Jeremy Cherson, Legislative Advocacy Manager for Riverkeeper, said, “Riverkeeper applauds the Senate for passing a slate of important bills on the heels of Earth Day, such as banning the application of coal-tar based pavement sealers, reducing plastic pollution by banning hotel toiletry bottles and requiring DOH to create an emerging contaminants testing list. These bills, if passed by the Assembly and signed by the Governor, will continue the long march to a cleaner Hudson River and a healthier New York.”

Kathy Harris, Clean Vehicles and Fuels Advocate at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), said, “Reducing harmful tailpipe pollution that endangers our communities and environment will help improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers. This bill is a step in the right direction toward a zero-emission transportation sector, which is vital to achieving the state’s ambitious climate goals and building a fossil fuel free future. We support the sponsors efforts to advance equitable and ambitious transportation policies.”

Erin McGrath, Policy Manager for Audubon New York, said,  “Birds are telling us that we need to act now to restore our earth, and we commend the Senate for passing legislation that will protect the places people and wildlife need to survive in honor of Earth Day. Audubon strongly supports efforts to conserve 30% of our State’s lands by 2030, reduce the proliferation of microplastics in our environment, and minimize the impacts of climate change. These actions will ensure a brighter and greener future for birds and all New Yorkers, and we look forward to seeing them enacted into law.”

Photo credit: 1) 125th Street. 2) Robert Jackson.

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