5 state parks to get new septic systems

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Five Long Island parks will get new septic systems after a recent review found they were out of compliance with current water pollution standards, New York State Parks Department officials announced this weekend.

The department entered a consent order with the State Department of Environmental Conservation to address the decades-old septic systems at Belmont Lake, Heckscher, Robert Moses, Sunken Meadow and Wildwood state parks. The cost of installing replacement systems is not yet known, but it is expected to be in excess of $5 million, officials said.

"State Parks takes its stewardship of parks and their environment seriously and handles all non-compliance with top priority," Commissioner Rose Harvey said in a new release. "Upon discovering a potential issue with the septic systems at our parks, we took aggressive steps to investigate and are developing solutions that will comply with environmental standards while maintaining crucial services for millions of visitors to these parks."

State Parks' ongoing engineering review has preliminarily concluded that 30 septic systems at those locations were out of compliance, officials said, but they do not pose a threat to public health. The five parks have a total of 100 septic systems among them. The remaining 70 are in compliance with standards, officials said.

As part of the settlement, the parks department will pay a $25,000 fine and would be assessed an additional $25,000 if the terms of the order are not met in three years.

The department will also begin a $250,000 environmental benefit project. The project would improve groundwater quality in Suffolk County by installing nitrogen-reduction technology or educational projects.

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