The effort to safeguard Long Island’s groundwater proceeds on many fronts. Lots of talk, action and money have been devoted to protecting the region’s sole-source aquifer. But there always is more to do.
One step that must be taken involves state legislation passed this session by both the Senate and Assembly that provides much-needed regulation of large-scale mulch and composting operations. These facilities have been shown to leach contaminants into groundwater, most notably by a state probe of an operation on Horseblock Road in Yaphank. Testing done several years ago at the site and the area nearby revealed levels of manganese, ammonia and thallium, as well as gross alpha and gross beta — in other words, radioactivity — that exceeded drinking-water standards. Samples at other sites showed similar results.
In 2015, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed legislation much like the current bill, saying the state Department of Environmental Conservation should include such measures in its revision of regulations for solid waste. The DEC’s draft update indeed is better than the existing rules, but the bill is even tougher. Sponsored by Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), it explicitly requires the use of impermeable liners and testing for water quality around these facilities, as well as the suppression of odor and dust.
This time, Cuomo should sign the legislation.
— The editorial board