An Opportunity for Cleaner Water in Suffolk County

Failing cesspools and septic systems that have been identified as the single largest source of nitrogen pollution to south shore bays in Suffolk County, Long Island. Nitrogen pollution degrades water quality, deplete fisheries, causes harmful algal blooms, reduces coastal resiliency, and puts the economic health of our communities at risk. Some Suffolk County communities may soon be integrated into a new public sewer treatment system that would protect public and environmental health from this avoidable form of pollution.

There is currently $390 million in federal and state funds ready to be used to advance sewer expansion projects in these areas as part of the Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative that was created after Hurricane Sandy. Introductory Resolutions 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994 passed the Suffolk County Legislature last month to access these funds. The legislation extends Suffolk County Sewer District 3 to the Connetquot River and the Carlls River and creates a new Sewer District 27 for the Forge River. NYLCV submitted a letter in support of these bills. However, approval for the funding of these sewer projects must be put before voters as a ballot referendum this month in order to move forward.

According to Suffolk County, at $390 million, these projects mark the largest investment in water quality infrastructure in the County in more than 40 years, and will eliminate nearly 7,000 cesspools and septic systems.

Expanding a public sewage system to these neighborhoods would make clean water distribution more reliable in homes that have historically had to depend on septic tanks or cesspools.  Houses with cesspools or old septic tanks don’t properly capture and treat wastewater, so nitrogen and other chemicals produced by waste end up in waterways.  Read more about the environmental impact of inadequate wastewater facilities here.

NYLCV and other partners urge Long Island residents to vote Yes on the ballot referendum taking place on Tuesday, January 22. Voters have the opportunity to secure this state and federal funding to hook up homes to sewage treatment facilities that will protect our health, environment, and economy.