Group urges state to protect drinking water after quality report

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WOODBURY -

Some politicians and environmentalists are urging the state to do more to protect drinking water following a disturbing new report on contamination issues.

A group of GOP lawmakers says that the state's Drinking Water Quality Council isn't doing enough to safeguard New York's drinking water supplies.

They are calling on the council to get back to work in setting standards for harmful contaminants.

The call to action comes as the state comptroller released a water quality report calling on the state to do more to monitor drinking water contaminants.

The state audit raised several concerns. Among them is that nine counties - including Nassau and Suffolk -- had a significant number of unregulated contaminant occurrences that were at or above the minimum reporting levels.

Environmentalist Adrienne Esposito says toxic chemicals such as 1,4-dioxane, PFOA and PFOS have been discovered in 39 water districts throughout the region. The chemicals have been linked to cancer and other illnesses.

"Thirty-nine water districts equates to about 75 percent of Long Island population, which means over 2 million people are currently drinking water that has 1,4-dioxane over a health-based standard by the U.S. EPA," says Esposito.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed 12 experts to the Drinking Water Quality Council in September 2017.

The council's first job was to set state standards for harmful contaminants, but state lawmakers say the council hasn't done anything to achieve that goal since it last met in March.

"What we're saying is that the governor has got to call this commission back to work with the water districts to set proper standards and proper levels so that they can proceed and do their job," said Sen. Carl Marcellino, of Oyster Bay.

News 12 called the governor's office for a response to the lawmakers' demand, but has not heard back.

The state Health Department issued a statement, which read in part that it remains focused on setting protective maximum contaminant levels for federally unregulated chemicals in drinking water.

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