Bill Memo: Expanding Drinking Water Testing

Major benefit rating


This bill amends Section 1112 of the Public Health Law to create New York’s first emerging contaminant testing list.


Every New Yorker deserves to know if their water is safe to drink. By creating New York’s first emerging contaminant testing list, this bill ensures that all public water systems across the state test for potentially dangerous chemicals.

Emerging contaminants are chemicals present in drinking water that may harm human health, but are not regulated by any drinking water standards. Under the federal Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR), the US EPA publishes a list of up to 30 emerging contaminants every few years to be tested for in drinking water. However, the federal regulation does not require testing by small water systems serving fewer than 10,000 people. This gap in testing keeps approximately 2.5 million New Yorkers from knowing what’s in their water.

In 2017, the NYS Legislature passed the Emerging Contaminants Monitoring Act, which instructed the NYS Department of Health (DOH) to create an emerging contaminant testing list and begin statewide testing. To date, DOH has not followed through with creating this list.

This bill lists emerging contaminants that all New York public water systems, including smaller systems serving fewer than 10,000 people, must test for in their drinking water. The list is largely drawn from chemicals known to occur in New York from EPA’s latest round of emerging contaminant testing, in addition to new threats like GenX, a PFAS chemical.

Every New Yorker deserves the same drinking water protections. This testing will provide New Yorkers critical information on the levels of contamination they are exposed to when they turn on the tap. The longer New York waits to institute comprehensive testing, the greater the chance that contamination will go undiscovered and people will get sick.

Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Major Benefit

Memo #: 17