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Bills to help preserve water quality

Erica Seidl fills a glass of water from

Erica Seidl fills a glass of water from her tap at her home in Franklin Square. (July 21, 2011) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) plans to introduce two bills next week aimed at tightening standards on nitrogen levels in groundwater and helping septic system owners improve facilities.

Sweeney made the announcement Thursday during the “Water We Going to Do?” conference at the Huntington Hilton in Melville, organized by environmental groups and sponsored by the Rauch Foundation.

The first bill would give the Department of Environmental Conservation authority to enforce stringent limits on nitrogen levels in groundwater. The DEC monitors for nitrates and nitrites, the most harmful elements of nitrogen, a state spokeswoman said.

The second bill would make $40 million from the state Environmental Facilities Corp. available to fund improvements to on-site wastewater treatment facilities for homes and businesses. The program would work on a grant basis and property owners from Nassau and Suffolk counties would be eligible, Sweeney said.

“We’ll be looking for Senate sponsors and hopefully support from the governor,” he said.

The half-day conference focused on Long Island’s degrading water quality and discussed issues, funding and the need for community and political support to ensure water supplies are protected.

“We are all at fault and to blame for the declining quality of our water and we all need to play a role,” said Carrie Meek Gallagher, chief sustainability officer at the Suffolk County Water Authority.

The program was organized by Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Group for the East End, Long Island Pine Barrens Society and The Nature Conservancy of Long Island.


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