Report: Suffolk groundwater problems worsening

A new report on the groundwater in Suffolk County points to some troubling trends, although it says the groundwater overall is still of good quality.

The report says nitrogen from cesspools and fertilizers is seeping underground, into the Sound and local bays, and triggering algae blooms like brown tide.

Nitrogen jumped 80 percent in the Magothy aquifer, where most Long Islanders get their drinking water. Other pollutants are on the rise as well, including the cancer-causing solvent PCE, which is used by dry cleaners and other industries. The amounts detected were still small, but the solvent was found in three times as many wells as in 1987.

At least one pesticide was present in 22 percent of public wells, and altogether, 100 pesticides have been detected in Suffolk's groundwater.

The report also sounds the alarm about a whole new class of contaminants getting to the groundwater from personal care products, such as shampoos, deodorants and hairsprays. One suspected cancer-causing personal care ingredient was found in two out of five wells tested.

The Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management plan, 10 years in the making, was officially presented to Suffolk lawmakers today. It contains pages of recommendations, including building more sewers along the South Shore and developing efficient home septic systems.

County Executive Steve Bellone says the work is just beginning. Environmentalists say the data shows the need to speed up the timetable for action.

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