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Source: News 12 Long Island

Lawmakers agree to include water protection in state budget

Posted: March 30, 2017
Originally Published: March 29, 2017

ALBANY - Lawmakers in Albany are close on making a deal that would go toward protecting the state's waterways and bays.

The funds would also go toward repairing and replacing hundreds of thousands of aging cesspools across Long Island.

Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says schools and entire downtowns on the Island are still operating on septic systems, including about more than 100,000 businesses in Suffolk County.

"The nitrates that come out of those cesspools are excessive in our coastal waters. They lead to fish kills and algae blooms," says Assemblyman Steve Engelbright (D-Setauket).

For tourism-dependent areas such as eastern Suffolk, word of agreement on the water issue was especially welcome.

"Whether you're running a motel, or you have a small business on Main Street or you're a commercial fisherman, you're water-dependent," says Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor). "It's a very strong economy, but it wouldn't be for long if we don't have clean water."

State Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) says although the exact amount hasn't been finalized, lawmakers have agreed to include billions for the issue. Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed spending $2 billion.

Lawmakers may also approve a separate bond act that could put another $5 billion toward water quality. That would be put before voters next year.

The budget is due on April 1.