Press Release

Gillibrand Announces New Legislation to Investigate Trace Amounts of Pharmaceuticals in New York Water

May 13, 2009

. In response to reports of trace amounts of pharmaceuticals, including estrogen
and codeine, found in New York waterways and around the country, U.S. Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand announced legislative action to study the presence of these
drugs in drinking water and the long term health effects on children and
families. Senator Gillibrand will work to move her provision this week when the
Senate considers comprehensive legislation to improve water infrastructure
across the country.

a lawmaker and mother of two young children, I expect that America’s drinking
water is clean and free of these kinds of pharmaceuticals,” said Senator
Gillibrand. “As we upgrade our failing water infrastructure, it is important
that we also address the safety of our drinking water. Right now the federal
government does not have adequate data on the long term health effects of these
trace chemicals.  Parents count on the government to ensure clean, safe
drinking water for all our families.”

In 2007, an
Associated Press investigation reported that water supplies across the United
States contained a number of drugs, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants,
mood stabilizers, and sex hormones.

Gillibrand’s provision will require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
to study the presence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water,
identify exactly what is found and at what level, where it’s coming from, and
how to control, limit, treat or prevent the dissemination of pharmaceuticals in
drinking water. The EPA will have two years to produce the study.

is currently no comprehensive data available on the presence of pharmaceuticals
in drinking water or its long term health effects. While there are no confirmed
health risks associated with consumption of trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in
the water, there is no definitive assessment to rule out potential danger. In
fact, some studies have shown that traces of pharmaceuticals may be harming
fish in New York City’s Jamaica Bay due to increased levels of the female
hormone estrone or other estrogenic chemicals discovered in the waterway.

a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Senator
Gillibrand will play a leading role in drafting the Water Infrastructure
Financing Act.
Communities across New York State are struggling with
deteriorating water infrastructure and the tremendous costs to rebuild. Senator
Gillibrand will work to deliver federal dollars to these communities across New
York State to rebuild failing sewers and water filtration systems, creating
thousands of jobs and reducing the local property tax burden.

my travels across the state, I’ve found that local officials are emphatic about
the need for more federal funds to help local communities rebuild and update
failing water infrastructure.  As a member of the Environment and Public
Works Committee, I will work hard to ensure New York gets its fair share of
federal money to rebuild our sewers and water filtration systems, creating good
paying jobs and reducing the property tax burden for local communities,”
Senator Gillibrand added.

Gillibrand’s other priorities for the Water Infrastructure Financing Act:

Funding For Water Infrastructure

New York, communities are burdened by antiquated water systems that do not
adequately serve residents or businesses. According to reports released by
the New York State Department’s of Health and Environmental Conservation, New
York will need at least $75 billion for repairing, replacing, and updating
aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Senator Gillibrand is
working to ensure that local taxpayers aren’t stuck footing the bill for New York’s
failing infrastructure.

there is a need to invest $334.8 billion for water infrastructure improvements
over the next 20 years to ensure safe water supplies, according to the latest
survey completed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2007. In
addition, a 2004 EPA study cited the need to invest $202 billion over 20 years
to maintain and upgrade wastewater treatment facilities to prevent untreated
sewage from flowing into lakes, rivers and streams, and protect human and environmental

Senator Gillibrand tours the state discussing the economy, community leaders
express frustration about finding ways to finance expensive drinking water and
wastewater infrastructure projects. Without the support from the federal
government, communities could be forced to raise local taxes on residents in
order to finance projects.

Gillibrand will work to increase investment for water infrastructure, not only
as a way to ease the local tax burden, but also to create jobs and build a
foundation for long-term economic growth. Senator Gillibrand will fight to
increase the authorization of funds under the Drinking Water and Clean Water
State Revolving Funds, and make sure New York receives its fair share of the

in “Green” Infrastructure

infrastructure has the potential to create jobs, reduce energy costs, and
protect the environment in New York and throughout the
country. Communities in New York are looking to go “green” by using
innovate design techniques and technologies when building or improving their
water and wastewater systems.

Water treatment facilities in New York
consume more than 3 billion kWh of electricity per year – enough electricity to
power more than 300,000 homes in New York for a year. Senator Gillibrand
will push for funding for energy efficient upgrades to water and wastewater
facilities that will reduce operating expenses and ease the local tax

New York’s urban areas, the construction of green roofs helps to ease rainwater
intake into municipal systems, as well as reduce energy costs for the building.
Green roofs are an affordable investment and an effective tool in areas where
green space is limited.

water systems, such as wetlands and lagoons, can be used to improve water
quality of treated wastewater before it returns to rivers, lakes, and
streams.  These systems can remove harmful chemicals, such as nitrogen as
phosphorus, as well as bacteria, which harms the ecosystem and our state’s
economy through decreased tourism, recreation, and economic activity.

Gillibrand will work to encourage development of “green” infrastructure by
providing lower interest loans and other incentives for communities that go

Invest in
New York’s Rural Communities

a quarter of New York’s land is farmland and almost half of its counties are
classified as rural.  New York is home to 36,000 farms and agriculture is
one of the primary economic drivers for the state, contributing almost $4
billion to New York’s economy. Because of the low density of our rural
communities, towns and villages across New York face enormous challenges
financing costly water and wastewater projects with little local revenue.

Gillibrand will work to ensure that our rural communities have the resources
they need to repair, replace, and update their aging drinking water and
wastewater infrastructure by advocating for increased incentives for our small

addition, many rural communities rely on well systems rather than large
municipal systems.  It is important that our rural communities not only
receive financial assistance, but also technical assistance to help with the
maintenance of these systems.

farms are critical to our state’s economy, which is why it is important to
provide resources to assist our farmers with pollution-preventative measures to
protect waters on and near our farms

Wastewater Systems to Protect Environment

Many New York
communities have combined sewer systems where wastewater and rain runoff are
carried by a single pipe. When there are heavy rains or snow melts, the
system can easily reach capacity. To prevent flooding or damage to the
treatment plant, combined sewer systems are designed to dump excess wastewater
into nearby streams, rivers, or lakes. The combined sewer overflows do not
just discharge excess storm water, but also untreated human and industrial
waste. This threatens environmental health, human health, and the local

In New York
City, 27 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted storm water are released
into New York Harbor each year. Senator Gillibrand is fighting for federal
dollars to fix these systems to prevent combined sewer overflows and protect
the health and well-being of our communities and the environment.

In addition, Senator Gillibrand is pushing for
research and development of new, innovate technologies and designs to improve
drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. She is working to create a
research program for water quality enhancement and management, efficiency
conservation, and water reuse.  These investments can help save
communities millions of dollars as they look to improve their drinking water
and wastewater systems.