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CCE PRESS CENTER

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
For more information contact:
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, 516-390-7150, 631-384-1378 (mobile), aesposito@citizenscampaign.org

SUFFOLK COUNTY GUTS DRINKING WATER MONITORING AND PROTECTION PROGRAM

Budget slashes 1/3 of the positions in Hydrogeology Department

Farmingdale, NY— In a move that shocked and angered environmentalists, Suffolk County passed a budget that slashed critical positions for the Drinking Water Monitoring Program. The budget cuts 5 positions in the hydrogeology department—a well driller, heavy equipment operator, laborer, hydrogeologist, and assistant hydrogeologist, and leaves empty more positions where staff members retired.

These cuts come less than a year after a report by Suffolk County documented an alarming decline in the County’s drinking and surface waters over a 17 year time frame (1987 through 2005). Contaminants on the rise include nitrates, volatile organic chemicals, pesticides, MTBE, pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

“With drinking water contamination on the rise, it is outright dangerous for the County to gut the department in charge of monitoring drinking water quality and providing remediation evaluations. Clean drinking water is not a luxury item that can be dispensed with during challenging economic times, it is a necessity. They have an obligation to the public to restore these critical jobs,” stated Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The Water Resources Department spearheads programs that protect Suffolk County residents against adverse environmental health impacts. The highly trained and experienced staff provides necessary and unbiased groundwater data which is needed for comprehensive remediation plans in communities throughout the county. Their work is invaluable in identifying and characterizing numerous contaminated sites including Manufactured Gas Plant sites, MTBE plumes, gasoline leaks and industrial toxic waste sites. Communities have grown to trust and support the work of the hydrologists. In addition, in-house well drilling is extremely cost effective, saving 25% to 50% of the cost of outsourcing this work.


THE DIRTY DOZEN –
Public Health & Drinking Water Protection Programs adversely impacted include limiting or eliminating testing and monitoring for:

1. Private well sampling – 1,000’s of home in Suffolk County drink from private wells that need to be sampled for a wide variety of contaminants.
2. Superfund sites, which are the most contaminated sites in the county and cause groundwater, soil and air contamination.
3. Brownfields – contaminated sites for which the county wants to advance clean up and restore these sites to active and productive uses.
4. Article 7 of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code. – limits the storage of toxic and hazardous waste materials in groundwater sensitive areas thereby preventing pollution.
5. Article 12 of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code. This code requires that toxic and hazardous material storage facilities be registered, allowing the county to monitor chemical substances that can contaminate groundwater.
6. Contamination at Brookhaven National Lab
7. Remediation for the Calverton toxic groundwater plume.
8. MGP related toxic sites.
9. Groundwater contamination around compost sites. This is an emerging and growing concern which may be contributing heavy metals and radionuclides to groundwater.
10. Review and approval of any new sewage treatment facilities.
11. Environmental Site Assessments – this essential program allows the county to assess contamination in soil and groundwater, and then evaluate the potential impact to public health and our environment.
12. Groundwater investigations such as the Horseblock Road Investigation. Identifying the source and extend of groundwater in a community is the first step to ensuring the public in not exposed to toxic chemicals in drinking water supplies.


“Our drinking water is facing real threats—pesticide contamination, Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC), MTBE, nitrate contamination and more. We depend on Suffolk County’s program to provide unbiased, scientific data to shape remediation and protection efforts. The not-so-good news in the Suffolk County Water Management Plan sends a strong message that we need to improve the protection measures for our drinking water supply, not dismantle them. Risking public health is not an excuse for good financial management of the county,” stated Esposito.
 

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Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

updated by bsmith  5/2/12