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SCWA moves to examine the value of its intellectual property

The Suffolk County Water Authority has hired an Albany law firm to determine if the agency has intellectual property that might be worthwhile to patent or copyright, to bring in revenue that could help stabilize rates.

The authority board at its June 26 meeting in Oakdale voted to retain Heslin, Rothenberg, Farley and Mesiti as intellectual property counsel to determine if there are advances the authority might market.

“We do a lot of good things here,” said Jeff Szabo, authority chief executive officer, who said board member Patrick Halpin suggested the agency undertake the review.

Szabo noted that authority staff, for example, developed an advanced oxidation process to treat the emerging contaminant 1,4-Dioxane, which is not yet regulated but may face federal or state regulation in the future. The authority has successfully used the process to counter the chemical, which is found in 40 percent of its wells.

1,4-Dioxane is a likely human carcinogen and has been found in groundwater throughout the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Szabo also said SCWA has developed a data system, dubbed Water Traq, that allows water and health professionals access to water pollution data on a parcel-by-parcel basis. The system could be valuable to water agencies elsewhere, Szabo said.

John Millazzo, a water authority attorney, said he expects to finalize a contract with the law firm within the next month. The firm will be paid from $160 to $400 an hour, depending on whether it uses senior partners or associates.

“We capped it at $10,000; we did not want to make it open-ended, but it is worth pursuing,” Szabo said.

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