What's in the Water: Suffolk health policy

A News 12/Newsday investigation has uncovered a new Suffolk County health policy that some say could threaten water quality.

Researchers say they do not yet know what happens when barely detectable amounts of some chemicals get mixed in with drinking water.

Researchers say they do not yet know what happens when barely detectable amounts of some chemicals get mixed in with drinking water. (12/16/15)

CENTER MORICHES - A News 12/Newsday investigation has uncovered a new Suffolk County health policy that some say could threaten water quality.

Experts say small, on-site commercial sewage treatment plants – which are designed to reduce nitrogen and kill bacteria – fail to filter out drugs, personal care products and household chemicals, which then seep into the groundwater.

Researchers say they do not yet know what happens when barely detectable amounts of these chemicals get mixed in with drinking water.

In 2010, a draft of Suffolk's water management plan said future sewage plants should be placed far away from public water wells. Far enough so that it would take at least 50 years for contaminated groundwater to reach the well's intake.

The county’s Health Department didn't follow that recommendation, according to the News 12/Newsday investigation.

In fact, this year’s final version says sewage plants can be much closer to public water wells – meaning it would take as little as two years for wastewater to get to the nearest well.

Critics say the new guidelines put public health at risk. They accuse the Health Department of caving to pressure from developers.

“We would like to see any discharge to the groundwater as far away as possible from our wellfield,” says Joseph Pokorny, deputy CEO of the Suffolk County Water Authority.

The Water Authority wasn't even consulted before the new policy came out.

The Health Department insists its new siting policy for projects with sewage plants is safe.

Long Island’s largest developer group – Long Island Builders Institute – denies pressuring the Health Department and says the public has nothing to worry about.

Suffolk officials turned down News 12’s request for an on-camera interview on this story, citing scheduling conflicts.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Trending Video

Mark Wahlberg was in Port Jefferson Station Sunday 1 Mark Wahlberg visits Wahlburgers restaurant in Port Jefferson
Long Islanders are showing love for Makenzie Cadmus, 2 Butterfly baby Makenzie Cadmus turns 1
News 12's Elizabeth Hashagen visited Leonardo's Pizza in 3 Tasty Tuesday: DIY pizza
Nassau Police say they arrested a 23-year-old man 4 Police: Uber driver beaten unconscious by passenger
Vote set for tonight on whether or not 5 Vote tonight on plan to allow alcohol sales on Long Beach boardwalk

advertisement | advertise on News 12

More News

There are questions in Suffolk because of cutbacks What's in the Water: Follow-Up Investigation

When you turn on the tap, you expect the water to be clean and healthy.

Environmental experts say nitrogen is the biggest threat Water quality conference held in Oakdale

A water quality conference was held Thursday in Oakdale to discuss threats to Long Island's

According to the report, ground water, the only Report: Suffolk groundwater problems worsening

According to the report, ground water, the only source of drinking water on Long Island,

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE