Both houses of the New York state legislature have unanimously approved legislation to allow local water districts to sue polluters and use those funds to clean up their water systems. A bill sponsored by State Senators James Gaughran and Kenneth LaValle, closed a loophole in state law that prevented lawsuits against the companies that have introduced dangerous chemicals into our drinking water supply.
“The people of New York have won a great victory towards holding polluters accountable. It was an honor to be a part of such an important landmark bill. The bill that passed the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature will aid local water providers in recouping the moneys necessary to clean up contaminated water supplies throughout the state. I want to thank the passionate lawmakers such as Assemblymembers Fred Thiele and Steve Stern as well as Senators Jim Guaghran and Ken LaValle who together in a bipartisan way got this over the finish line,” stated Anthony Figliola, vice president of Empire and an East Setauket resident. Empire represents the Long Island Water Conference, a trade group that is representative of Long Island’s public water suppliers.
Recent events such as the Grumman plume on Long Island and the contamination of drinking water in Upstate Hoosick Falls have put a spotlight on an issue that many public and private drinking water purveyors have been working to address for years—how to reduce and/or eliminate pollutants, which found their way into drinking water systems from bad actors who knowingly or unknowingly polluted the state’s drinking water. Governor Cuomo and the legislature had already committed $3 billion towards this effort, it is estimated that at least $40 billion is needed.
As many await the new regulations from the state’s health department that will increase the water quality standards above the current EPA standards. The anticipated new state regulations will create the strongest water quality protections in the nation, but it will also cost billions to implement. These additional capital costs will require state support and Long Island will be a key player as the legislature debates adding more funding to the state’s clean water programs.
Empire Government Strategies (“EGS”) is a government relations and economic development business that aids local governments, state agencies, private and nonprofit groups in dealing with issues at the state and local government levels. The firm has authored studies on various topics of concern to the state legislature, including the widely read policy analysis on New York City’s congestion pricing issue, titled “Congestion Pricing – Deal or No Deal” and a tax amnesty report that identified over $2 billion in lost revenue for the state.
—Submitted by Empire Government Strategies