U.S. Rep. Lee Zelzin (R-Shirly) and the rest of the Long Island congressional delegation held a news conference on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (Photo by Amanda De Lauzon)

Long Island’s congressional delegation is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen public drinking water standards following a report suggesting the region has the most contaminated water in New York State.

The lawmakers also called on the EPA to provide more financial and technical support to LI’s public drinking water providers so the utilities can better handle contaminants such as 1,4 Dioxane and other emerging chemicals.

“There are millions of families across Long Island who drink this water every single day and we cannot turn our backs on them or their health and safety,” said U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City). “We need to act now and we need to act fast.”

Rice was joined at a news conference Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), and U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who co-signed a letter to the EPA listing their demands.

Also joining the lawmakers was Liz Moran, environmental policy director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), which conducted the water contamination study finding LI drinking water had higher than acceptable levels of contaminants that have been linked to cancer and other medical issues.

“The public has the basic right and expectation when they turn on the tap that the water is going to be safe for them to drink, but unfortunately, here in New York and other places in the country, that basic right has been put in jeopardy,” said Moran.

While the effects on humans aren’t fully known, studies show that there could be possible negative health effects over time due to exposure to chemicals such as 1,4 Dioxane, which is found in many household products is a possible carcinogen, according to the EPA. State health officials are currently considering new water standards to regulate that and other new chemicals found in drinking water.

“These are emerging contaminants, this is not settled science yet, we know this is a problem that is going to be coming in the future that we have to be prepared for,” said Zeldin. “We are working proactively to try to get the EPA to pay more attention to what’s going on here on Long Island and to help us get funding to do the testing and treatment.”

Still awaiting a response from the EPA, this group is working hard to make the issue known and fighting to protect the water of the Long Island residents.

“We have a crisis, and a crisis deserves action and it deserves funding so that’s what we are calling for today,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

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