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State, Stony Brook University sued over pollution discharged into LI waters

The Peconic Baykeeper and Long Island Soundkeeper have sued the state parks agency and Stony Brook University in federal court for discharging polluted wastewater from cesspools and septic systems into area waterways.

While state parks officials have said they will improve sewage treatment facilities at five state parks, the environmental organizations say the improvements are insufficient because the upgrades will not remove nitrogen.

A lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, citing polluted wastewater discharged at Robert Moses, Heckscher, Belmont Lake, Sunken Meadow and Wildwood state parks.

The second suit, filed Monday, accuses Stony Brook University of discharging polluted wastewater at its Southampton Campus.

The suits contend that the agencies fouled estuaries and rivers with excess nitrogen and other pollutants without proper permits and in violation of federal laws, including the Clean Water Act.

State parks spokesman Randy Simons said 30 septic systems at the five parks will be updated over three years at a cost of more than $5 million.

Stony Brook spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow said the university "does not comment on pending litigation."

Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister said that while the parks agency signed a consent order with the state Department of Environmental Conservation over the summer agreeing to upgrade their systems and replace cesspools at the parks, "there's no denitrification treatment of the wastewater."

Because of that, he said inadequately treated wastewater will continue to enter Long Island Sound and the Great South Bay.

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