Clean Water At Any Price


The state has acted responsibly in adopting tougher new limits, set by the Drinking Water Quality Council, for PFOS and PFOA, chemical compounds identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as “emerging contaminants.”
Linked to a number of serious health effects, PFOA and PFOS have been found in drinking water in Wainscott, Sagaponack, Hampton Bays, East Quogue and Westhampton, among other places nationwide. Yet, the Environmental Protection Agency has to date offered no more regulatory guidance than issuing a “health advisory level” of 70 parts per trillion, for water consumed by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Thanks in part to prodding by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker recently agreed not only to set a maximum contaminant level but also to raise the bar much higher than “advised” by the feds: New state rules allow a maximum level of only 10 parts per trillion of each compound.
It’s not yet clear how the state will enforce the new standards, or how long water suppliers will be allowed to take to reach compliance. We do know that the Suffolk County Water Authority said earlier this year that it expects to spend some $1 billion over the next decade to fight chemical contamination of Long Island’s water supplies, a cost that will have to be passed on to consumers.
Clean drinking water is priceless, however, and it’s about time we started treating it that way.