Suffolk County officials plan to use treated wastewater from a Riverhead sewage plant to water the county-owned Indian Island Golf Course.
County officials announced the program Thursday, saying it will conserve water and reduce the flow of nitrogen into the Peconic Estuary.
Suffolk Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said in a statement that the project is "the first of its kind in Suffolk County" and will use "reusable, safe wastewater."
County Executive Steve Bellone said the program "is another example of County and local government coming together to help preserve the Peconic Estuary." Suffolk officials said it will also reduce the amount of water the county needs to tap from Long Island's aquifer.
Beginning in 2016, the Riverhead Sewer District plant, located next to the golf course, will pump 350,000 gallons of water per day -- almost half the daily volume treated by the plant -- into the course's irrigation system during months when the course is watered.
Sewer District Superintendent Michael Reichel said the wastewater will be treated "to the limits of technology" and be "better than the water they're pumping from the ground." He said municipalities often reuse wastewater in arid states, but the practice is rare in New York.
The infrastructure needed for the irrigation program is part of a $24 million upgrade of the plant expected to be complete in 2016, Reichel said.
Scientists in recent years have blamed nitrogen pollution from human waste for causing algal blooms harming Long Island's marine ecosystems. The Riverhead plant empties into the Peconic River, which is on the state's list of impaired water bodies due to nitrogen pollution and low oxygen levels.