Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed state regulations to be modified and temporarily waived to allow thousands of cases of donated fresh drinking water for distribution to New Yorkers in areas hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.
To allow these water donations to be distributed, the Governor issued an Executive Order to suspend and modify Department of Health regulations for a manufacturers bottled and bulk water products. The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued individual waivers of container deposit requirements for water donated by manufacturers and will consider other requests for waivers.
It is critical that safe drinking water supplies can reach New Yorkers in need as soon as possible, Governor Cuomo said. The actions taken by the State today to help companies distribute bottled water to hard hit communities are the right and practical thing to do, while still protecting the publics health and safety. I thank the companies for their donations to help New Yorkers during this time of emergency.
The Anheuser-Busch company has packaged thousands of cases of canned potable drinking water to donate to communities facing severe water shortages due to Hurricane Sandy. Since the company does not ordinarily produce drinking water distributed in New York, the company lacked the certification necessary to distribute such products. After review, the Department of Healths water safety experts were satisfied that the water is fit for human consumption.
The Governors Executive Order today suspends and modifies Department of Health regulations so that Anheuser-Buschs water may be donated for disaster relief efforts. It also authorizes the Commissioner of Health to allow additional donations when, at his discretion, standards have been met to ensure the safety of the product.
In addition to Anheuser-Busch, Walmart will also be donating bottled water to hurricane affected areas in New York City.
To support these water donations, DEC will not enforce certain provisions of the State Returnable Container Act, commonly known as the Bottle Bill, for drinking water donated to emergency relief efforts until November 9, 2012. The Bottle Bill currently requires that every beverage container sold or distributed in New York must have the deposit collected by a registered deposit initiator and every container must clearly indicate the New York refund value. DEC will not enforce these requirements for the drinking water donated by Anheuser-Busch and Walmart during this time period. DEC will consider requests for waivers from other companies wishing to donate water to the relief efforts.
Redemption centers, consumers and retailers should be aware that there may be water bottles and cans for which a deposit was not paid and therefore should not be returned for redemption. These containers should be recycled through regular plastic and metal recycling programs.