The New York State Assembly today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. to close loopholes in state law that currently make it more difficult to hold groundwater polluters accountable for their actions. A version sponsored by Senator James F. Gaughran was approved in the New York State Senate two weeks ago.
If signed by Governor Cuomo, the bill would amend state Civil Practice Law and Rules to help to ensure that polluters, not ratepayers, pay for the costs of treating groundwater contaminants. In the past, lawsuits brought by water suppliers against polluters have been dismissed due to nebulous language concerning the timing of contamination. The Thiele/Gaughran bill clarifies that the statute of limitations begins three years from the latest of detection of a contaminant (1) in excess of any notification level, action level, maximum contaminant level, or maximum contaminant level goal, (2) the last wrongful act by any person whose conduct contributed to the presence of the contaminant, or (3) the date the contaminant is last detected in excess of any notification level, action level, maximum contaminant level, or maximum contaminant level goal for that contaminant.
"If a company pollutes Long Island’s greatest natural resource, its drinking water supply, it should be responsible for the cost of cleanup, not the ratepayers," said SCWA Chairman Patrick Halpin. "This bill will go a long way to ensure that happens, and so we strongly encourage Governor Cuomo to sign it into law."
"The state must be equipped with every tool and resource necessary to address New York's current water quality crisis," said Fred Thiele, Jr., the sponsor of the bill in the Assembly. "The bill approved by the Assembly unanimously today, if signed into law, will hold polluters financially accountable for endangering our public drinking water supply with emerging contaminants."
"Long Island’s drinking water supply is our greatest natural resource," Gaughran said. "When deep-pocketed companies pollute our water and contaminate our drinking water, they should be responsible for the cost of cleaning it up, not ratepayers. Safe, clean drinking water is a human right and we must treat it as such."
The Suffolk County Water Authority is an independent public-benefit corporation operating under the authority of the Public Authorities Law of the State of New York. Serving approximately 1.2 million Suffolk County residents, the Authority operates without taxing power on a not-for-profit basis.