SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE ANNOUNCES WATER QUALITY SUMMIT ON LONG ISLAND
Suffolk County and Center for Clean Water Technology to Host Regional Summit to Coincide with National Septic Smart Week
Basil Seggos, Commissioner of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, to Serve as Keynote Speaker
Suffolk County Executive Bellone today announced that Suffolk County is partnering with the Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University to host the first of its kind Suffolk Water Quality Summit on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 which will coincide with National Septic Smart Week. The announcement comes on the heels of current beach closures that have escalated in recent days due to bacteria discovered along the ocean shorelines of New York and New Jersey.
“After decades of kicking the can down the road, swift action is necessary to end the nitrogen epidemic that is wreaking havoc on local communities across the country,” said County Executive Bellone. “Suffolk County is organizing this summit as part of its continued effort to restore our water quality and protect our beaches.”
New York State DEC Commissioner Seggos said, “Through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, and with financing from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, we are helping Suffolk County and communities across the state upgrade their infrastructure and improve water quality. Suffolk County is a true leader, advancing critical and innovative programs to address nitrogen and other threats to water quality, and I look forward to discussing the county’s progress to protect and improve water infrastructure and help find solutions to Long Island’s water quality challenges.”
The Suffolk Water Quality Summit will feature three separate panels of experts from academia, industry, advocacy, and government, on topics ranging from the latest technologies utilized to combat the water quality crisis, regulatory constructs relating to wastewater management and sewer connections. The summit will also bring together state officials from other states that are dealing with similar challenges related to inefficient or outdated wastewater treatment systems that are a contributing factor to the decline of their water quality.
In addition to the three scheduled panels, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos is scheduled to be the keynote speaker.
The event will take place during National SepticSmart Week from September 16 through 20, 2019, which seeks to raise awareness and educate homeowners, local officials and communities on the proper care and maintenance of their septic systems, along with options to improve and sustain their communities.
Since taking office, County Executive Bellone launched the Reclaim Our Water Initiative to restore the water quality Long Island bays, harbors, and oceans that have been affected by decades of nitrogen pollution. This effort has received national recognition and the support from local governments, as well as the business and environmental communities.
Suffolk County launched its Septic Improvement Program, the first of its kind program in the state that make it affordable for homeowners to voluntarily replace their outdated cesspools and septic systems with advanced technology. To date, more than 100 advanced systems have been installed, with over 130 pending installation along with over 1,700 total applicants.
The program continues to expand after New York State awarded Suffolk nearly 70 percent of the entire $15 million available statewide to provide grants to homeowners who choose to upgrade their systems voluntarily to new IA technologies. The County has also installed two advanced wastewater treatment systems at County Parks – Lake Ronkonkoma and Meschutt — and is currently in the process of installing nearly 15 additional systems at various County Parks.
Additionally, Suffolk County voters recently approved the single largest sewer expansion on Long Island in recent history. The three projects, part of the Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative – a partnership between Suffolk County and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery – will connect approximately 7,000 homes in Babylon, Oakdale and Mastic to sewers, and also allow businesses the opportunity to connect at their own cost. These new sewer connections will significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen leaking into Long Island’s waterways by hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
Stony Brook University’s Center for Clean Water Technology is working to identify new and innovative solutions to Long Island’s declining water quality by partnering with research institutions, municipalities, and private sector stakeholders. With the support of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the State Department of Health, and Suffolk County, the center is developing the next generation of nitrogen removal technology.