What’s in my water? NYPIRG has the answer

Photo by Sulfur, via Wikipedia Commons

Earlier this month, the New York Public Interest Research Group launched the 2018 update of “What’s In My Water”, an interactive online database which makes it easier to find information on potential contaminants and threats to surface drinking water supplies.

The annual update compiles information and research from various government agencies, including the state Department of Health, Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create a “one-stop-shop” for information on threats to drinking water.

In particular, the 2018 update highlights the locations across the state featuring aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a synthetic foam used against petroleum fires. AFFF is often found at military training facilities and airports with regularly scheduled commercial flights.

The chemical components of AFFF, particularly perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), have been linked to the contamination of groundwater and drinking supplies, including at least one location here in New York. Elevated levels of PFAS contamination were found near the old Plattsburgh Air Force Base, which closed in September, 1995.

NYPIRG Program Director Megan Ahearn stressed the importance of publically available data on water supplies in a press release highlighting the launch of the annual update.

“Clean water is among our most precious resources,” said Ahearn. “While federal and state laws are supposed to protect us, we know that drinking water sources are under constant threat.”  

In addition to information of AFFF, the database also includes new details on lead in drinking water and private water well testing, both coming after the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan involving heightened lead levels in drinking water.

Ahearn stressed the importance of the service in educating the public on the state of their water supply, particularly in light of a number of environmental issues over the past several years.

“With this 2018 update, we know how important it is for New Yorkers to remain vigilant about the state of their drinking water, particularly as communities in Flint, Michigan and right here in Hoosick Falls, Newburgh, on Long Island and elsewhere in the state continue to fight for their right to safe drinking water.”