Suffolk County’s legislature on Wednesday postponed a vote on a water quality bill requiring residents renovating their homes or building new ones to install high-tech sewage treatment plants, which cost $ 20,000 on average.
Many lawmakers have voted in favor of Suffolk County’s Steve Bellone proposal aimed at reducing nitrogen pollution in local waters.
“I want to move forward as soon as possible because we have a big problem,” said Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) said.
But several Republicans said they wanted time to review the measure because they had concerns about the cost of the schemes to homeowners doing renovations.
“I want to clean up the bay, but we cannot ignore how this affects people,” Legis said. Steve Flotteron (R-Brightwaters) said.
The measure would require innovative alternative wastewater treatment systems on site in the new residential and commercial buildings. The measure, which is due to come into effect next July, also applies to apartment renovations that increase the number of bedrooms.
Legislators are expected to vote on the bill on October 6th.
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Suffolk officials are still reviewing the IA systems to confirm that they have been in line with standards over two years.
Of eight systems with preliminary approval, two do not meet the nitrogen limit values, as district data show.
IA systems emit about a third of the nitrogen of conventional septic systems. However, the high-tech systems are allowed to release almost twice the nitrogen limit for sewage treatment plants, as the standards of the district show.
The sanitation code proposal comes five years after Bellone declared nitrogen pollution “Public Water Enemy No. 1” for causing algal blooms that can affect waterway ecosystems.
About 75% of Suffolk is unsewn and 380,000 households and businesses use cesspools or outdated sewage treatment plants.
Studies show that sewage is the main source of nitrogen pollution in many of Long Island’s waterways, including Nassau, which is largely supplied by sewers.
Bellone’s proposal is the first step in a $ 4 billion underwater drainage plan to remove aging wastewater treatment plants and cesspools with high-tech wastewater treatment plants and sewer connections over 50 years.
“This is incredibly important in protecting the health of residents and coastal ecosystems,” said Chris Gobler, a Stony Brook University scientist who led research on nitrogen pollution, at the legislative session on Wednesday.
However, a coalition of scientists and engineers says nitrogen pollution concerns are overstated. And the Long Island Builders Institute says the bill doesn’t do enough to solve the nitrogen problem.
Several reviewers have questioned the potential cost to homeowners as the systems can cost more than twice as much as traditional facilities.
In addition, the maintenance of the high-tech systems costs about $ 300 per year. Because they consume electricity, operating them can increase electricity costs.
District officials said they were working to get grants for low-to-middle-income households.
Two traders of the high-tech systems informed the legislature on Wednesday that the systems are effective in reducing nitrogen pollution and that they do not cost much more when new construction than a typical sewage system.
“The price for these systems is a small price to pay for the water quality,” said Joe Densieski of Wastewater Works Inc.
Mitch Pally, executive director of the Builders Institute, said connecting more homes to wastewater treatment plants, such as developments with wastewater capacity, would be more effective than building more impact assessments.
“I think you’re doing it wrong,” said Pally. “Let’s do this so we can bring communities together and not make house by house.”
Also on Wednesday, the legislature approved the freezing of the salaries of employees of the district administration until 2022. After leaving the district employment, the employees receive all missed level increases or increases.
Rachelle Blidner covers the government, politics and breaking news in Suffolk County.
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