Nitrogen Pollution on Long Island
June 23, 2015
Excess levels of nitrogen plaguing Long Island waterways has resulted in several mass fish kills, shellfish losses, harmful algal blooms, wetlands destruction, and more. Earlier this week, NYLCVEF hosted a forum at Stony Brook University to discuss this issue that has been over 45 years in the making. Scientists, politicians, and environmentalists gathered to explore and tackle the two main challenges of this nitrogen crisis: technology and finances.
Panelists Walter Dawydiak of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, Amanda Ludlow of Roux Associates, Theresa McGovern of VHB, and Professor Harold Walker of Stony Brook University identified poorly treated septic system waste as the main culprit of the nitrogen crisis. Approximately 70% of wastewater systems in Suffolk County rely on septic systems or cesspools that leach wastewater containing high levels of nitrate into the ground, or remain unsewered, which means that on-site treatment is not meeting clean water requirements.
The problem of leaching is technologically difficult and expensive to fix, which led the panelists to explore the technical aspects of new sewage systems. The panelists discussed the implementation of advanced septic systems throughout the county as a pilot project. The main problem of these upgrades is the cost – as much as $30,000 for an individual homeowner. Walker estimated the cost of installing on-site upgraded septic systems throughout the county at $6 billion. He stated a need for better technology that is more effective, more reliable, and more affordable.
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, President of Jove Equity Partners and co-chair of Suffolk Planning Board David Calone, and Director of Sustainability and Chief Recovery Officer for Suffolk County Dorian Dale confronted the issue of funding to implement these upgraded systems in the second panel session. Some of the financial options include doubling the county’s water quality sales tax, extending the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund money to be used for water-quality related projects, bonding, and tax-increment financing. The panelists believe that solving this water quality problem could end up financially benefiting the county and stressed that Long Island has the opportunity to become a front-runner in clean water planning.
This forum was only the beginning, we look forward to continuing our work on Long Island to find potential solutions to this critical water issue.
Click here to download the background paper prepared in advance of this event.
Thanks to Roux Associates for their generous support of this event.
By Breanna Giovanniello< Back to Policy Forums
On March 5th, 2020, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, Sustainable Westchester, and Pace Energy & Climate Center co-hosted the Westchester Clean Energy Summit. The Summit focused on the future of clean energy in Westchester. Panelists from local and state government, academia, and business spoke about New York State’s new climate law—the…
On February 12th, 2020, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a nonpartisan candidate forum for the Queens Borough President special election, which will take place on March 24th. The forum took place at the New York Hall of Science in Corona and provided the opportunity for nearly 100 voters to…
Last month, we joined Columbia Law School, The Earth Institute, and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell to host a policy forum on implementing the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Two panels of experts discussed the opportunities and challenges of implementing the new climate law.
On Thursday, June 20th, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) and Energy Vision hosted an educational forum on organic waste and biogas. Two panels of experts discussed the benefits of using food waste and waste from sewage treatment plants to produce biogas, or renewable natural gas. Biogas is naturally produced as…
We are seeking sponsorships to support an exciting new potential program. With enough support, we will convene key stakeholders for a series of roundtable discussions in Westchester, the Capital Region, Long Island, Hudson Valley, and Buffalo/Niagara on overcoming the barriers to siting renewable energy in New York. View our sponsorship package here, and please share with…
This policy forum focused on the economic, social, and environmental benefits of green infrastructure (GI) as an approach to managing stormwater. We brought together expert speakers and panelists to provide an overview of green infrastructure vs. traditional gray approaches and how it can be used to protect and restore water quality in the Delaware River…
Website by Trillion.
© 2017 New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. All rights reserved.