Bill Memo: Protecting Private Wells From Toxic PFAS
This bill amends the environmental conservation law and directs DEC to establish a grant program and maintenance rebate program for private well-owners with PFAS detected in their water supply.
This bill directs the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create a grant program to help private well owners install treatment technology or hook up to a public water system if they detect toxic PFAS chemicals in their drinking water. The bill also establishes a rebate for these well owners to help cover the cost of filtration maintenance.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of over 9,000 man-made chemicals which have been linked to numerous harmful health effects, including thyroid disease, kidney cancer, and preeclampsia. While New York has established drinking water standards on two PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, to protect New Yorkers served by public water systems, these standards do not formally apply to private wells.
There are an estimated 360,000 private wells across upstate New York and Long Island, but there are no requirements for these wells to be regularly tested or treated for contaminants. Many private well owners with toxic PFAS in their drinking water cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars to install and maintain treatment technology or hook up to an uncontaminated public water system.
This legislation is based on a similar program in New Hampshire, a state that has also been hit hard by the PFAS crisis. The bill makes several improvements on the New Hampshire model, including by providing private well owners an up-front grant to expand accessibility for low-income households, increasing the number of PFAS chemicals eligible under the program to widen remediation efforts, and establishing a rebate for often-costly filter maintenance.
Every New Yorker deserves clean drinking water, including private well owners. It is long past time for the state to play a more active role in protecting the health and well-being of these state residents.
Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Substantial Benefit
Memo #: 15