New York State Celebrates Drinking Water Week May 7 – 12 with Further Initiatives to Protect Water Quality

New York State committed to safest drinking water possible

New York invests $5 billion to protect water quality infrastructure since 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 10, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health celebrates Drinking Water Week, May 7 – 12, 2023, with newly announced funding to safeguard the drinking water of New Yorkers. The Department protects drinking water quality through a variety of programs that support source water protection, treatment, and monitoring.

"We know that clean and safe drinking water is essential to life, which is why New York State is committed to ensure the highest quality water for our communities," Acting New York State Health Department Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "When New Yorkers turn on their tap, they can be confident their water meets strict health protective standards. I am grateful for the support of Governor Hochul and the legislators who continue to assist the Department in protecting the health of all."

Every day, New York's public drinking water systems move billions of gallons of water into homes for drinking, cooking, and bathing. The Department works with local health departments to regulate public water systems. New York State's drinking water programs help ensure that public water supplies are protected and regularly monitored, and water treatment operators are properly trained and certified.

Nearly 95 percent of New Yorkers receive their drinking water from public water systems. Approximately 17.8 million people are served by community public water systems, including about 12 million receiving drinking water from surface water sources (reservoir, lake or river) and more than 4.7 million obtaining their water from groundwater sources.

Source water protection is at the core of ensuring clean drinking water. The Department partners with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on the Drinking Water Source Protection Program that assists communities in implementing protection programs that protect lakes, rivers and underground aquifers for generations to come.

All public water systems in New York are required to meet stringent federal and state drinking water standards, including monitoring of more than 100 contaminants such as lead, coliform bacteria, volatile organic compounds, and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Each system must report any occurrence where maximum (allowable) contamination levels are exceeded and actions taken to resolve these issues.

"Each day, New York State is helping communities across the state safeguard drinking water quality by advancing comprehensive programs and policies that prevent pollution and protect our precious water resources," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Through Governor Hochul's leadership and major funding support, DEC and DOH are implementing stringent water quality protections that prevent public exposure to contaminants while assisting communities statewide to improve and enhance clean water infrastructure."

In 2020, New York State became one of the first states to set its own health-based, feasible and enforceable standards for PFOA and PFOS. These standards have allowed the Department to develop a highly successful drinking water regulatory program to identify public water systems with elevated PFOA and PFOS, and take action to reduce these levels to prevent exposure and health risks. In October 2022, the Department proposed regulations for 23 additional emerging contaminants in drinking water and is currently reviewing public comments before formally adopting them.

New York State continues to introduce new funding and legislation to safeguard public drinking water including:

  • The Enacted 2024 New York State Budget - includes an additional $500 million in clean water funding, bringing New York's total clean water infrastructure investment to $5 billion since 2017. Community Assistance Teams, assembled by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC), are providing proactive outreach to small, rural and disadvantaged communities to help them access financial assistance to address their clean water infrastructure needs.
  • Environmental Bond Act - On November 8, 2022, New Yorkers overwhelming approved a ballot proposition to make $4.2 billion available for environmental and community projects. This includes $650 million to safeguard drinking water sources and reduce water pollution including the protection of drinking water sources.
  • Legislation (S.8763A/A.9824A) - In October 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation allowing local water authorities to take legal action against drinking water polluters for claims that were previously barred due to the statute of limitations. Local water authorities may generally only file legal claims against companies within three years of when misconduct or contamination occurred.
  • For additional information about the regulation, monitoring and delivery of drinking water in New York State, consumers can obtain a copy of their water utility's Annual Water Quality Report. For more details on the Department's Drinking Water Protection Program, visit here.