The Ministry of Health proposes new drinking water regulations

In an effort to improve drinking water in New York, the state Department of Health has proposed a list of new regulations.

“New Yorkers should know that their drinking water is among the most protected in the country,” state health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said on the state’s website, where the release of the proposals have been announced.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as PFAS, will be further scrutinized by the state along with 23 other contaminants added to the watch list.

Spectrum News 1 requested an interview with DOH leaders on Wednesday, but did not hear back.

“New York has led the way on emerging contaminants, and today’s announcement represents another significant milestone,” Bassett said.

The maximum contaminant levels set by the state don’t seem to reflect those of the Environmental Protection Agency on chemicals forever. Health advisories issued by the EPA in June suggest that the smallest amounts of contaminated drinking water may pose a danger to human health.

“This is just another example of the DOH and the governor being a day behind and a dollar short,” said Poestenkill Town board member Eric Wohlleber.

Contaminated water was discovered in several private wells surrounding Algonquin Middle School in Poestenkill. Wohlleber criticized the state’s response.

“We shouldn’t even be talking about this. We should be talking about zero. Zero is the number we should be looking at,” he said. “In Massachusetts and Maine, they have better standards.”

Almost two years later, the source of the contaminants at Poestenkill is unknown, but an investigation is ongoing.

“Throughout the summer, our teams conducted various field surveys at potential locations that we talked to the community about,” said Sean Mahar of the Department of Environmental Conservation. “We are also drilling new monitoring wells and test wells at various bedrock depths in the area.”

More rigorous testing, reporting and public notification would also be required under the DOH proposals, which now enter a 60-day public review and comment period before they can be adopted.