Thousands of Long Islanders have drinking water with contaminants that exceed state standards, according to a new report by an environmental advocacy organization.
The Citizens Campaign for the Environment said 24 of Long Island’s water suppliers applied for deferrals for their water to be tested by the New York State Department of Health, with 21 being granted the delay.
“The water suppliers have one responsibility and only one and that is to serve the public water that meets all of the New York State drinking water standards,” said Adrienne Esposito, the group’s executive director. “And people deserve clean water.”
New York adopted among the strictest drinking water standards in the United States last year when they cracked down on harmful chemicals, including 1,4-dioxane and PFAS. These chemicals are commonly found in household products and cleaners, and firefighting foam, respectively.
The state limit for 1,4-dioxane is 1 part per billion and 10 parts per trillion for PFAS.
See Who Got A Deferral
Water suppliers were supposed to meet the state’s deadline to meet state standards in November 2020. The state offered a deferral process to allow water suppliers more time to update water infrastructure and come into compliance.
In 2020, Suffolk County Water Authority, which supplies the most water to Long Islanders, reported 1,4-dioxane levels two and three times what the state allows. The company sought an extension from the state in November, notifying the state and customers of their current water quality and a timetable for reaching compliance.
Jeff Szabo, the authority’s CEO, said wells that had elevated levels 2019, before the officials state standard was set, were taken out of service while being treated. The wells were remediated and back into operation by the 2020 deadline, he said.
“There's a tremendous amount of work for each location to get treatment in place and have it approved by the state in New York,” Szabo said. “COVID didn't slow us down. Funding didn't slow us down. We're moving as quickly as we possibly can. And we're in compliance with the rules."
The environmental group wants the state health department to make other public and private water suppliers disclose the levels of contaminants to customers and provide a timeline for when the water will be up to standard.