Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-Rockland) announced that his legislation to require water utility companies to provide non-billing related information to residents of condominiums, cooperatives, or multi-family residences has passed the Assembly (A949).
Currently, residents that live in certain housing are not provided the same access to critical information on their water that other customers are. Because these residents receive their water through a master meter, they are not considered customers by the utility company and in turn are not provided direct notifications regarding water quality or service interruption. Zebrowski's legislation would empower the Public Service Commission to require water companies to create a process so that these residents are able to have access to critical, non-billing related information regarding their drinking water.
A glaring example of how this lack of communication directly negatively impacts residents can be seen just the end of last year when water utility company, Suez, alerted some Rockland customers that their drinking water exceeded the State's standard for PFOA and PFOS, chemicals in the PFAS family. Because they do not pay the bill directly, residents in condos, co-ops, or multifamily residences did not receive this crucial notice regarding the contaminant in their water if not distributed by the landlord, building owner, etc.
“Water is a basic human right and all residents, regardless of their address, must have equal access to critical information regarding the quality of their water. Apart from the obvious health implications, these folks pay a bill each month and should be treated as such. Something as important as critical public health information shouldn’t be left to chance to be passed along. This is a common-sense measure and I thank my constituent, Jacqui Dreschler, that initially brought this issue to my office’s attention and to the Rockland Water Coalition that I continue to partner with on water safety issues on behalf of Rocklanders,” said Assemblyman Zebrowski.
"The Rockland Water Coalition greatly appreciates Assembly Member Zebrowski's work on this bill, which will fix a major problem here in Rockland and in the state. People who live in condos or apartments with a single water meter are not considered customers by our water utility because they don't directly pay a bill. Therefore, they do not receive important health alerts about water quality issues in their neighborhoods like other customers unless their landlords or building superintendents pass on the warning. Assembly Member Zebrowski's bill will ensure that all residents have equal access to information about their water that will impact their health and safety," said Gale Pisha, Rockland Water Coalition.
"As a constituent and a water rights person, I am grateful to Assemblyman Zebrowski and his whole team for working and re-working Assembly Bill A949 - the right for citizens and residents to access information regarding water quality and health issues and water consumption. Knowing that this bill will take some time to enact and implement, I and others, including Condominium and Co-Op owners as well as renters, express thanks and hope that our local utilities, whether public or private, move into high gear without excuses or wasting more time, to safeguard the public’s health, welfare and pocketbooks. By incorporating the request to the PSC, mandating that information be made accessible, Rockland County residents, who previously have been left in the dark on water quality issues, will now be able to have correct and current information available, in order to make informed decisions about water quality and their own health," said Jacqui Dreschler, resident and advocate.
The bill now awaits passage in the Senate. If signed into law by the Governor, it would take effect immediately.