Press Release

Key Senate Panel Passes Gillibrand Amendment to Investigate Trace Amounts of Pharmaceuticals Found in New York Water

May 14, 2009

Environment and Public Works Committee approved U.S. Senator Kirsten E.
Gillibrand’s amendment to study the presence of pharmaceutical drugs in
drinking water and the long term health effects on children and families.
Senator Gillibrand offered this amendment in response to reports of trace
amounts of pharmaceuticals, including estrogen and codeine, found in New York
waterways and around 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. “I am pleased that as we upgrade our failing water infrastructure,
we will 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. Senator Gillibrand’s provision will require
a study of the presence of pharmaceuticals 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.

a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Senator
Gillibrand played 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 is working 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 am working 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 also
passed the committee:

Funding For Water Infrastructure

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.

Senator Gillibrand helped secure $20 billion nationwide for the Clean Water
Revolving Fund over the next five years.  The current authorization was
set at merely $600 million. The will also authorized $14.7 billion for the
Drinking Water State Revolving Funds over the next five years.  The
current authorization that expired in 2003 was authorized at $1 billion per

year, New York received just over $75 million from the the Clean Water
Revolving Fund.  Under this legislation, New York would receive $244
million next year, an increase of more than $168 million dollars.

addition, Senator Gillibrand worked to ensure that poor communities within
larger urban areas are eligible to receive additional support reserved for
disadvantaged communities, including low interest loans, loan forgiveness,
negative interest rates, and increased subsidization.

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.

in “Green” Infrastructure

Senate Gillibrand secured language that gives states the authority to provide
additional incentives for green projects, like low interest loans, and gives
green projects and projects that increase energy efficiency, water reuse, and
innovative techniques, increased weight in the application process. It also
gives states the authority to spend up to 30 percent of their funds on green

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
innovative 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
pushed for funding for energy efficient upgrades to water and wastewater
facilities that will reduce operating expenses and ease the local tax

Invest in
New York’s Rural Communities

Gillibrand worked to provide additional assistance for Clean Water Revolving
Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund projects in low-income, rural
communities including additional subsidization, low interest loans, loan
forgiveness and negative interest rates.  It also provides additional
assistance for rural communities by expanding the use of funds for drinking
water technical assistance to rural communities to include non-profits. 
This is important because often times, with small budgets, these communities do
not have personnel with the technical expertise to maintain the drinking water

addition, Senator Gillibrand secured $50 million nationwide for agricultural
pollution control technology grants.  New York could receive $1 million to
set up their fund and assist farmers with pollution control projects.

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.

Wastewater Systems to Protect Environment

Gillibrand secured $1.85 billion specifically for projects that address the
issue of combined sewer overflows.

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 economy.

In New York
City, 27 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted storm water are released
into New York Harbor each year. Senator Gillibrand fought 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.