NYSAC Report Addresses Public Water System Sources and Oversight
Concerns about public drinking water quality and contamination are rising in communities across New York State and the nation.Concerns about public drinking water quality and contamination are rising in communities across New York State and the nation. In response, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) today released a report that addresses the county role in public drinking water systems across the state. The report recommends a more streamlined process for notifying the public when EPA violations are identified in our drinking water systems.
The report, Preserving and Protecting our Drinking Water, is available on the NYSAC website at www.nysac.org.
"It is critical that we know, now more than ever, the sources of our public drinking water, the vulnerabilities in public water systems, and the roles of different levels of government in ensuring our collective safety," said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, Schoharie County Treasurer.
Between 70 and 75 percent of the earth's surface is covered with water, but only 1 percent of that is drinkable. While both world population and the demand for freshwater resources are increasing, supply remains constant. In New York State, according to the NYS DEC, approximately 1.8 billion gallons of water are withdrawn each day from the lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and groundwaters of New York State (excluding Nassau and Suffolk counties) for public water supply.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the public water system supervision program under the authority of the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Under the SDWA, EPA sets national limits on contaminant levels in drinking water to ensure that the water is safe for human consumption. The EPA also regulates how often public water systems monitor their water for contaminants and report the monitoring results to the state and EPA.
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) oversees the supply of public drinking water to ensure that it is suitable for people to drink. To assure the safety of drinking water in New York, the DOH in partnership with county health departments, regulates the operation, design and quality of public water supplies.
"Government must do everything it can to ensure the delivery of safe public drinking water. The quality of water should never be taken for granted. Understanding the service delivery system and what the needs are to ensure water quality should be a top priority for the state," said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. "This report was designed to inform elected officials how the system is regulated. Our county health departments stand ready to assist the state and federal agencies to regulate the operation, design and quality of public water supplies across the state."
The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State. Organized in 1925, NYSAC's mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties. www.nysac.org