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Suffolk County Looks To U.S. Infrastructure Funding For Water Quality Improvements

Courtesy of Pixabay

The Suffolk County Water Authority hopes President Biden’s infrastructure bill will provide funding to clean up drinking water on Long Island.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said contaminants — including 1-4 dioxane and PFAS — found in Long Island’s drinking water have been traced to firefighting foam used at federal military and defense manufacturing sites.

“The 1-4 dioxane filtration is expensive,” Esposito said. “The technology takes a while to get right. But even with the technology to treat the PFOA and PFOS, it’s a million dollars per well head. So, it’s expensive. Who’s going to pay? We think it is the federal government’s responsibility to help pay for what the federal government caused.”

Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco joined the water provider and residents to call on the federal government to help expand sewers, replace septic systems and filter out the contaminants. Calarco said water remediation and replacing old pipes is expensive, and Long Island needs federal dollars.

“As this infrastructure package is being talked about in the federal government right now, I think we all need to go down there with one voice and say, this is a prime opportunity for the federal government to make it right to provide us the resources we need,” Calarco said.

Officials made the announcement during an anniversary roundtable to discuss the 70 years since the formation of the public water authority and the future of water quality on Long Island.

Patrick Halpin, the authority’s chairman, credited its “cutting-edge water quality testing laboratory” and recent upgrades to provide safe drinking water to 1.2 million customers.

“But it wasn’t always like this. At the beginning, [the authority] was just a concept dreamed up by local leaders to fend off outside entities, such as New York City, trying to poach Suffolk’s precious underground water supply,” Halpin said.

The anniversary follows the recent approval of two public water authorities to start to take over service in Nassau County from New York American Water. The private water provider has among the highest water rates in the state.