What's in the water?: Removing 1,4 dioxane from water could come at steep price for taxpayers

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New York state is expected to set "first in the nation" regulations for cancer-causing chemical 1,4 dioxane, but removing it from the drinking water may come at a steep cost to residents.

Huntington resident and cancer survivor Linda Sauer says she didn't think she had to worry about her family drinking water from the tap. She says once she learned about the higher presence of 1,4 dioxane in groundwater, she became concerned because drinking water is a common variable among everyone that lives on Long Island.

Reducing the levels of 1,4 dioxane is championed by both water officials and environmental advocates. However, Hicksville Water District Superintendent Paul Granger says it may also come at a high cost for ratepayers.

Dennis Kellerher, of H2M Architects and Engineers, says it may take a minimum of three years for a system to be online to treat the water.

In order to remove 1,4 dioxane from the drinking water, officials are employing an advanced oxidation process treatment system. Raw water is run through a large tube and combined with hydrogen peroxide and UV lights to break down the contaminant.

MORE: What's in the water?: Experts say 1,4-dioxane threatens drinking water supply
Extended interview with Dennis Kelleher
Extended interview with Adrienne Esposito
Extended interview with Paul Granger 

The Suffolk County Water Authority installed the first advanced oxidation process in Central Islip. It is now looking to install 31 more countywide. The Hicksville Water District says its treatment facility costs about $200,000, and that the district needs five of them.

Representatives from the Hicksville Water Districts say it would cost them about $60 million to permanently install the treatment facilities. Combined with Suffolk County, the cost to install treatment facilities around Long Island would be about $840 million.

Kellerher says Long Island is hundreds of millions of dollars short to be able to treat the water. Environmental advocates say the cost is diluting the issue.

Multiple water districts and the Town of Hempstead have filed federal lawsuits to hold industrial manufactures responsible for the cost of removing 1,4 dioxane.

The state health department says once regulations are implemented, they'll go into effect immediately.

 

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