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Newburgh ‘Water Salon’ happening Saturday

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Event puts focus on drinking water as NY Department of Health proposes new standards for toxic chemicals PFOS and PFOA

 

Would you like to learn more about protecting drinking water? Tomorrow, July 27, the Newburgh Clean Water Project is hosting its first Water Salon, a day of activities “to uplift, educate, and strengthen our voice as a community in demanding clean water.”

The event will include watershed tours, a talk by Grandmother Carole (who recently stopped by the Hudson River Maritime Museum on her Water is Life Walk for an event co-sponsored by Riverkeeper), and a screening of The Devil We Know, a powerful film about the same kind of toxic chemicals that have contaminated Newburgh’s primary reservoir.

Riverkeeper will be there, too, presenting on protecting drinking water at its source and providing information about how the public can comment on New York State’s proposed drinking water standards for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The daylong event is sponsored by The Water Foundation, Riverkeeper, and Safe Harbors Lobby at the Ritz.

The Newburgh Clean Water Project was formed in response to the drinking water contamination crisis in the City of Newburgh. In 2016, the City declared a state of emergency in response to toxic PFOS contamination in Washington Lake, its primary drinking water source. Several other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been detected in the reservoir, and the City has been using alternate drinking water sources ever since. Shortly after the emergency declaration, the Department of Environmental Conservation listed the Stewart Air National Guard Base – the largest source of the PFAS contamination, due its use of firefighting foams – as a state Superfund site.

PFOS and PFOA are the two best known of the 4,500 PFAS chemicals that have been manufactured, used, and, too often, released into the environment, harming people and wildlife.

The New York State Department of Health is just now beginning to regulate these chemicals in drinking water by proposing enforceable limits, or “maximum contaminant levels” for PFOS and PFOA. In addition to protecting drinking water, the final limits will also be used by the Department of Environmental Conservation to set cleanup standards for the Air National Guard Base. Download our fact sheet here.

The proposal would set limits of 10 parts per trillion (ppt) each for PFOS and PFOA. If adopted, New York would have the most stringent individual limits for those contaminants in the country. But those limits may still fail to protect the most vulnerable populations. A peer-reviewed assessment of PFAS in drinking water issued by NRDC earlier this year suggests that the Health Department’s goal should be zero exposure and that PFOS and PFOA should be subject to a combined limit of 2 ppt.

There is a public comment period on the proposal until September 23. Let the Department of Health know that you support a stringent combined maximum contaminant level for PFOS and PFOA of 2 ppt by submitting comments to regsqna@health.ny.gov.

Comments may also be mailed to:

New York State Department of Health
Bureau of Program Counsel, Regulatory Affairs Unit
Attention: Katherine Ceroalo
Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza, Rm. 2438
Albany, New York 12237-0031

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