Today the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection hosts a public hearing on proposed changes to New Jersey’s Discharges of Petroleum and Other Hazardous Substances Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:1E, Ground Water Quality Standards, N.J.A.C. 7:9C, Private Well Testing Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:9E, Safe Drinking Water Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:10, and New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:14A. Clean Water Action’s, NJ Campaign Director, Eric Benson testifies:
“NJ has become a leader in the nation on action against PFAS pollution. Historically, the Drinking Water Quality Institute has been a national beacon, using science to regulate drinking water contaminants, often setting stricter limits than what is federally mandated thus reducing our exposure to contaminants. The recent actions by the Attorney General’s office to hold large polluters accountable for their toxic legacies in our state send a strong message that New Jersey will not only regulate pollutants, but will also chase down the responsible parties. Today’s proposal continues New Jersey’s leadership on pollution prevention by actually setting an enforceable standard for PFAS pollution rather than simply settling for the recent national suggested guidance. We certainly cannot rely on the federal government to protect us from toxins at this time.
Clean Water Action supports the swift adoption, and implementation, of all three pieces of the proposal discussed today. We also have these comments to add.
In a world of an estimated 4700 PFAS chemicals, researching and setting an MCL for each one will be time consuming and expensive. The next step must be to stop doing chemical by chemical approach. It will become an impossible task. There is no time left to protect our health as the dangers are already present in our water supplies, communities and have contaminated our bodies.
In the face of wide public concern about PFAS chemicals, contaminated sites around the state, occurrence in drinking water sources, and mounting evidence of a wide array of health effects we encourage DEP to continue using all available authority to address the issue. We need to know more about where PFAS chemicals are manufactured and used, how they get into the environment, and how to clean them up. We need to stop PFAS discharges into the environment including into the surface and ground water that provide our drinking water.
Our canvassers frequently encounter New Jersey residents who are distrustful, or even downright terrified, of their tap water. These residents often install expensive in-home filtration systems, but low income and working class families cannot afford these systems. They depend on the DEP to keep their families safe from water pollution. Other residents resort to buying cases of bottled water which is often not as well-regulated as the tap water and contributes to plastic waste. New Jersey families should not have to spend extra money trying to ensure that the water they drink with, cook with, and bathe in is safe. They should be secure in the knowledge that this DEP is getting ahead of the problem of the terrifying alphabet-soup of chemical pollutants being discovered in public water supplies. NJ should be a leader in helping water systems be able to detect PFAS chemicals and use the most effective treatment available. Let’s celebrate that NJ is taking a stand today, but let’s also acknowledge that in a state with the industrial legacy that our state has, there will always be more pollutants, and we should adopt a more precautionary approach to protecting the water supply.
Thank you to the NJDEP for taking action on PFAS pollution and for working to protect NJ families from PFAS contaminants.”
Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration and Congress. Clean Water Action has 150,000 members in NJ and nearly 1 million nationwide. www.cleanwater.