May 10, 2021

Drinking Water Source Protection Program Launched in New York State

At least nine Dutchess County, New York, municipalities are part of a new state program aimed at protecting the quality of drinking water.

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At least nine municipalities in Dutchess County, New York, are part of a new state program aimed at protecting the quality of drinking water.

The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) and Health (DOH) announced the creation of the Drinking Water Source Protection Program.

This is an initiative to assist municipalities with assessing and supporting drinking water source protection programs and up to 40 volunteer communities “will work with technical assistance partners to develop programs that proactively protect public drinking water supplies,” according to the NYDEC press release.

"The Drinking Water Source Protection Program empowers communities to protect their sources of public drinking water, ensuring good water quality and protecting public health," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos in the press release. "This is the first phase in an effort that will eventually benefit hundreds of communities across the state and advance the State's commitment to protecting water quality and providing safe drinking water for all New Yorkers."

The main goals of the program are to: 

  • Protect public health by preventing pollutants from entering a drinking water supply;
  • Avoid preventable drinking water treatment costs;
  • Increase community confidence in their local public drinking water;
  • Create long-lasting partnerships that support implementation;
  • And utilize an array of existing funding sources to aid with project implementation costs.

Up to 40 volunteer communities are being matched with technical assistance providers including: state-selected environmental consultants; Regional Planning Boards; the New York Rural Water Association; and DEC and DOH experts. 

Each community will initiate measures to prevent pollution of source waters and minimizing their effects when it does occur, reported the press release. New York has released a working draft that communities can use to develop their drinking water source protection plan titled "A Framework for Creating a Drinking Water Source Protection Program Plan."

The program is supported by New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. $3 million has been dedicated to hiring two consulting firms and a portion of $2 million of the 604(b)-grant program has been allocated to regional planning boards so far. These funds will assist volunteer communities with creating and implementing their source water programs, added the press release.

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