Opinion: Hold Polluters of Water Responsible

Clean, safe drinking water is a human right. This year New York is set to establish toughest in the nation drinking water standards. These landmark standards will ensure that New Yorkers are protected from emerging contaminants that pollute our drinking water.

However, clean drinking water comes with a price tag. And those who pollute our water should be responsible for the costs of cleaning up our water. That’s why I introduced a bill to close loopholes in state law that have allowed polluters to evade fiscal responsibility for the costs of cleaning up the contamination they’ve caused.

This would allow public water authorities and districts the ability to potentially recoup hundreds of millions of dollars — essential funds desperately needed to treat and contain emerging contaminants within our water systems.

Last year Gov. Cuomo pledged $200 million toward cleaning up this effort. This is a good step forward. But New York State cannot and should not fund this fight alone. The federal government has once again bucked its responsibility to protect our drinking water by delaying implementation of critical standards, which determine the level at which a contaminant triggers a water authority to reduce and remove it from our water supply. These standards are too important to delay. So this year New York, using expert recommendations from environmentalists, academics, health professionals, and water authority officials, will set toughest in the nation drinking water standards.

We must continue taking steps forward to protect our drinking water so that it is safe for generations to come. We must pass legislation to hold polluters accountable for contaminating our drinking water. And we must urge the federal government to make our environment a priority and share in the cost of ensuring our drinking water is clean and safe.

Because that should be something we can all agree on.

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