In his letter "Septic system key to LI’s clean water" [Sept. 14], Kevin McDonald expressed his displeasure with the article about Suffolk County planning advanced septic systems ["Suffolk septic proposal," News, Sept. 7]. On the contrary, I and a group of engineers and scientists were pleased to see the other side of the story. For the past few years, we have heard Suffolk County, its consultants, contractors, lobbyists and others exaggerate the dangers of nitrogen, theorizing that it is the cause of harmful algae blooms, fish kills, and loss of wetlands and shellfish. Based on our research, it became obvious that nitrogen from septic systems was not the cause of these problems. We have documented this in several reports submitted to the county.
One only need look to the Great South Bay for proof. The south shore from the Queens border to Oakdale has been serviced by sewers for more than 40 years. In effect, all the septic systems have been eliminated and no nitrogen from septic systems is being discharged into the bay; yet the problems in the bay persist. We agree that it makes sense to treat wastewater prior to returning it to the aquifer, but it has to be done for the right reasons, based upon good science.
Editor’s note: The writer, a professional engineer, has been affiliated with a group of experts working pro bono to review Long Island’s wastewater disposal policies.
The septic system proposed by Suffolk County would cost too much: $20,000 to install each one plus approximately $300 for maintenance, which will never decrease and more than likely increase. Add the electricity to run the system at our high utility rates, which also will not decrease. Then if the power goes out on Long Island for, say, three days you may be unable to flush the toilet. Look at the trouble we had from Tropical Storm Isaias and add no working toilets. And where are homeowners supposed to squeeze the new system onto their property? Many towns have homes with tiny lots. How about banning lawn fertilizer every other year? Most people will see that their yards still will look fine without a yearly application. Nassau County would need to come on board for the best results. Many Long Islanders cannot afford this. There has to be better, less expensive systems.