Suffolk water chief: 1,4-dioxane filters will come at ‘tremendous cost’

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HAUPPAUGE -

Officials from across Long Island met at the Suffolk Water Authority in Hauppauge Thursday to discuss how to combat 1,4-dioxane – a chemical found in Long Island's drinking water that could be linked to health risks.

Suffolk Water Authority CEO Jeff Szabo says they are planning to install filters to get rid of the chemical, but it will come at a cost.

The estimated price tag for the treatment system is $840 million. So far, the state has set aside $200 million for the project.

"We want to make it clear to our elected officials that we need assistance from the state to offset those costs," Szabo told News 12. "Depending on which district you're living in, setting a regulation for this contaminant could increase rates two or three times."

A Suffolk water treatment plant removes 1,4-dioxane in two steps. First, water travels down a device, gets treated with hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet light, and then it gets sent into these large carbon filters, which remove the rest of the contaminants.

The Environmental Protection Agency has labeled 1,4-dioxane as a probable carcinogen. And now the state is planning to limit the acceptable concentration of 1,4-dioxane to one part per billion, meaning hundreds of water treatment machines would have to be built.

Water providers are asking state officials to wait up to three years before imposing limits on 1,4-dioxane. But environmentalists call that move unacceptable.

Without new regulation, officials say Long Island's tap water is still safe to drink.

It's unclear at this point if more state money will be available for Long Island water districts. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle have said they will push for additional funds.

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