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Letters: For, against a Suffolk water-use fee

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone uses a map

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone uses a map of Suffolk County to point out his administration's proposed efforts to clean the water infrastructure along the South Shore on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Water. We drink it, we wash with it, we cook with it. We fish in it, we swim in it. It drives our economy and supports our real estate. It’s in everything from beer to baby formula. We can’t survive without it.

Unfortunately, scientists indicate that Long Island’s waters are being poisoned at an alarming rate. This time it’s not Northrop Grumman, the Navy or some unscrupulous dry cleaner. It’s the cumulative impact of what we flush directly into our drinking-water aquifers every day.

Kudos to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone for taking the initiative to change the trajectory we are on [“Referendum on clean water, News, April 24]. It is much wiser for Suffolk County to invest in an ounce of prevention. When it comes to water, a pound of cure won’t be feasible.

Kimberly Williams, Cold Spring Harbor


As an avid outdoorsman, I am perhaps more concerned about Long Island’s water quality than many readers. Nevertheless, I am appalled by Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone’s proposal to levy a water usage surcharge on residents. Did we not approve a sales tax surcharge back in 1987 to improve our water quality, only to find out that two Suffolk County executives later used that money to offset budget deficits?

If anyone should pay for the damage cesspools do to our environment, it should be people who have cesspools. I lived in Bay Shore with a cesspool and then experienced septic system problems during a short time living in New Jersey. When I moved back to Long Island, I made sure to choose a community that had a sewer system.

My neighbors in Mount Sinai and I pay hundreds of dollars each year to be hooked up to the municipal sewer system. My last yearly bill was for $504.71. So, I feel that we are doing more than our part to alleviate the nitrogen problem.

But before cesspool users or anyone else is forced to pay yet another premium for living on Long Island, Suffolk County needs to explain where all of the revenue from the quarter-cent sales tax went, and then properly allocate all of that money for water quality.

Ralph Brady, Mount Sinai


I read in disbelief and with complete disgust the article explaining how Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone wants to charge residents a fee for water usage.

Suffolk County diverted $29.4 million from the sewer assessment stabilization fund, which was voted on by taxpayers to help fund water protection. On top of that, there is a surplus of $150 million that has not been rightfully returned to the taxpayers in the Southwest Sewer District, which is a violation of three public referendums.

Now Bellone wants to charge taxpayers a fee for water usage to fund his fight against nitrogen pollution, and then put it to a vote on the ballot. What good is a vote when past referendums have been ignored?

Rosalie Hanson, Medford