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To Protect Drinking Water

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 15:03

The East Hampton Town Board adopted a resolution last Thursday supporting the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council’s recommendation of a maximum level of 10 parts per trillion for perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. The move follows the 2017 and 2018 detection of the perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, in more than 150 residential wells south of East Hampton Airport.     

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has not regulated PFOS or PFOA, but it has identified both as contaminants of emerging concern. Its current guidance levels are 70 parts per trillion. PFCs are toxic at very low levels, and exposure has been linked to a number of cancers, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, and hypertension.     

The resolution notes “the absence of federal leadership” as behind the state’s enactment of the Drinking Water Quality Council in the 2018 budget “to identify strategies to protect the quality and safety of drinking water.”     Once established, a maximum level of a contaminant allowed in public drinking water creates a legally enforceable standard requiring water systems to monitor, report findings, and keep the contaminant below the level set.     

The nonbinding resolution urges the State Health Department to adopt the 10-parts-per-trillion standard.     Upon discovery of PFCs in wells in Wainscott, the town offered free bottled drinking water to all those in the test area without access to public water supplies, as well as rebates on point-of-entry treatment systems.     

One year ago, after the declaration of a state of emergency and the creation of a water supply district, work commenced to install approximately 45,000 feet of water main in the hamlet so that properties could connect to the public water supply.   

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