Local leaders have recognized Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz for his efforts to improve water quality.
As infrastructure ages in New York and other industrial states, water quality issues become more of a concern for government. Some of the most recent high-profile demonstrations of these issues of concern have been in Hoosick Falls (New York) and Flint, Michigan - where toxic contaminants have tainted the water supply; and in the cities of Syracuse and Troy, where burst pipes left whole neighborhoods and a community without water.
"These are times when we need leaders in local government to take proactive steps to protect our water supply systems," said Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry, president of the New York State Association of Counties. "Right here in New York, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has championed a cause to remove microbeads, contained in our health care products, and ban them from entering our water supply chain."
A large delegation of county officials from across the state recognized Poloncarz during Tuesday's NYSAC 2016 legislative conference for leading a local effort to ban microbeads. After Erie County's ban, several counties in New York and in other states enacted similar local laws.
In response, Congress, last December, passed federal legislation that proposed a standardized phased-in ban of microbeads in health and beauty products. President Barack Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 on Dec. 28.
"It is my pleasure to recognize Mark Poloncarz for his leadership, not just by enacting a local law, but for also leading an educational effort across the state and nation on the effects of water pollution," said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario in presenting a copy of the bill signed by Obama.
Poloncarz said, "Counties are in a position to lead on the issues that directly affect their residents, such as protecting water quality, and can directly impact legislation at the state and federal levels by moving on these issues, raising awareness of their importance and working with partners to better care for our communities. I am honored to be recognized for leading Erie County's efforts to ban microbeads, and hope that we can continue to serve as an example for other municipalities to take direct action on the issues that affect them and effect positive change for their own communities."
The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York, including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC's mission is to represent, educate and advocate for, and serve member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.