It’s that sweltering summer day, when you come indoors and fill your glass from the water faucet after taking the dog out for its daily walk. As you drink the water, you can hear your pet slurping from its bowl in the background. The act is so commonplace that you never give it a second thought. What’s safer than your drinking water, right?
Well, for some that isn't such an easy question to answer. It's for that reason, and the concern raised by some of my neighbors from Moorestown, that Assemblyman Herb Conaway and I delved into answering that question.
We all tend to take the purity of our drinking water for granted. And, it's understandable. More people in our country have access to safe and quality drinking water than at any point in our history. "Clean drinking water is a basic human need,” according to the Global Health and Education Foundation. “Unfortunately, more than one in six people still lack reliable access to this precious resource."
One of the material threats to the quality of our drinking water is from contaminants that make their way into our water systems. And, unfortunately some of these contaminants are man-made. One of the more dangerous contaminants is 1,2,3 trichloropropane (TCP). TCP is a chemical that we find in pesticides, degreasers and varnish removers. TCP is entirely man-made, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified it as a likely carcinogen. (If you have any doubts about TCP, just visit the EPA’s website on this issue and prepare to be alarmed. Visit http://1.usa.gov/1H6JNLx.)
There are few precious elements in our daily lives that we take for granted more than access to safe drinking water. For that reason, I have sponsored a bill (A-3954), along with my colleagues, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, M.D. and Assemblywoman Grace Spencer, to protect ALL New Jersey citizens from any contaminated water. The proposal requires the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute to study the issue of TCP and recommend to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection a maximum contaminant level for TCP. Based on the research I have done on the topic, I hope the answer is zero. That said, the scientific experts from the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute are in the best position to give us that answer.
The proposal is now awaiting final approval by Gov. Chris Christie. I have noted publicly that this bill, quite simply, does the right thing for New Jersey residents. Clean drinking water is an absolute must. Ensuring our continued vigilance in holding this truth is essential, so that other communities do not suffer the same problem. I hope that Gov. Christie signs this proposal into law. After all, what could be more basic or fundamental that assuring local citizens that their drinking water is safe?
However, Doug O’Malley, director of the nonprofit group Environment New Jersey, has raised doubt about the bill getting the governor’s signature. In a news report, O’Malley was quoted saying, “This legislation has to be passed. The administration has blatantly ignored the previous recommendations from the Drinking Water Quality Institute. The governor, if he’s looking at the science, should sign this in a heartbeat.”
Virtually everyone considers the United States at the top of the developed world, yet in New Jersey, serious questions have been raised regarding the actual standards for safe drinking water. An informed citizenry is essential towards protecting our nation's water supply and its delivery systems. This requires diligence and persistence in demanding that our water supplies are not compromised by lax governmental oversight. This proposal is a step towards developing a standard and ensuring that our drinking water is safe for everyone. That's my take. What's yours?