Study Shows Alarming Water Price Disparity From Town To Town On Long Island


 — Water bills wildly fluctuate across Long Island. That’s because there are 48 water commissioners, many of whom send out obscure bills with hidden costs.

That’s according to an alarming new study, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday.

What does your water cost?

It’s an easy question, but on Long Island it has a complicated answer. There are 48 water districts charging widely different amounts.

Just ask residents.

“I called the water company and said, ‘Why is my bill so big?'” one person told McLogan.

“These rate increases are astronomical,” another said.

FLASHBACKWater Woes In Nassau County: Frustrated Residents Look To Stop Flow Of Rising Rates

Faucet (credit: CBS2)

“Convoluted, so obscured and so cryptic that the average person is unclear about what water actually costs,” said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

According to a just-released study by the Citizens Campaign, homeowners who water their lawn in one village may pay more than homeowners in the neighboring town.

Some have a flat rate, tiered system based on usage and add capitol costs. Others charge service minimum use annual access fees.

“Cleverly hidden in residents’ property taxes,” one person said.

There is a discrepancy between counties. A Long Island family of four using about 10,000 of water per month pays, on average, $500 a year in Nassau County and $347 in Suffolk County. It’s the same water. It comes from the same aquifer.

The cheapest water districts are Greenlawn, Jericho, Riverhead, Sands Point and Freeport.

The most expensive are New York American Water of North Shore, Shelter Island, and New York American Water of the Five Towns, East Williston and Long Beach.

“We’re having a lot of problems with American Water,” one resident said.

New York American Water, Long Island’s only private water supplier, blames the inequity of the property tax system. It says it is investing in infrastructure. However, watchdog groups are pushing for a public takeover.

“What we’re calling for right now is what’s fair and constitutional. Everyone in Nassau County deserves municipal water — property tax and profit free,” said Dave Dennenberg of LI Clean Air, Water and Soil.

The report says the Public Service Commission must ensure water districts consolidate with a uniform rate structure and incentives to promote conservation.

Beginning next year, it will be illegal to bill customers for cubic or metric feet of water. Usage must be specified in gallons to make it easier to understand.


Greenlawn Water District Provides Lowest Cost, Report Finds


A report by the Citizens Campaign for the Environment found that the Greenlawn Water District provides homeowners with the cheapest water on Long Island.

At $148 per year, Greenlawn was far cheaper than the 10 most expensive districts,topped by The  New York  American Water Service Area 2 (North Shore/Sea Cliff) at $1,124.52. 

The only other local district to make it into the 10 lowest-cost districts was South Huntington, at $315.78.

The report also took issue with how rates are calculated, noting that some districts measure in cubic feet or 100 cubic feet, saying that consumers have trouble figuring out what they’re paying per gallon.

Water Cost Report

Report: True cost of water varies greatly across Long Island

A glass of tap water in your house may cost more than the same glass in a house just a few miles away.

A new report by Citizens Campaign for the Environment says the cost of bringing water into homes on Long Island varies greatly among the 48 different water districts serving Nassau and Suffolk.

Customers of the only privately owned Long Island water provider, New York American Water in Nassau County, pay the highest bills, according to the survey, at nearly $100 per month. The nonprofit says that because New York American Water is a for-profit company, it has to pay for property taxes which then can be passed down to the consumer.

The rest of Long Island water providers are government entities that are exempt from paying taxes. The Suffolk County Water Authority, which serves about 80% of Suffolk residents, is among the cheapest, with bills averaging less than $30 a month.

Residents in Greenlawn in the Town of Huntington have the lowest water bills on Long Island, paying an average $12 a month.

The nonprofit says it also discovered that some districts charge hidden fees that you can't see on your bill, and some water districts don't have water. The districts just have the infrastructure and buy water from neighboring districts.

The Citizens Campaign for the Environment recommends that smaller water districts be consolidated, and that there should be a requirement that all water bills be uniform and transparent.

New York American Water provides for three districts in Nassau County, including Sea Cliff, which has the highest rate per month at $93. The other two districts have the third and sixth highest rates.

New York American Water agrees to sell property to Sea Cliff 


Water district is priciest on Long Island


Although it is less than 10 miles away, Jericho residents pay significantly less than the North Shore Water District residents for water.

North Shore monthly water rates

Tier 1: $0.2233 per 100 gallons for first 3,000 gallons — $2.233 per 1,000 gallons

Tier 2: $0.5376 per 100 gallons for next 3,000 gallons — $5.376 per 1,000 gallons

Tier 3: $0.6552 per 100 gallons for next 9,000 gallons — $6.552 per 1,000 gallons

Tier 4: $0.6166 per 100 gallons for over 15,000 gallons — $6.166 per 1,000 gallons

Jericho’s quarterly (every three months) water rates

$1.00 per 1,000 gallons for 0 to 10,000 gallons

$1.05 per 1,000 gallons for 10,001 to 30,000 gallons

$2.00 per 1,000 gallons for 30,001 to 100,000 gallons

$2.65 per 1,000 gallons for over 100,000 gallons

What does this mean?

North Shore ratepayers have far smaller rate differential windows than Jericho. This enables New York American Water to increase rates faster than Nassau County’s public water.

If a home in Jericho were to use 10,000 gallons of water per month — or 30,000 per quarter — it would be charged roughly $31.50 in a quarter, or $10.50 per month. When adjusted for quarterly prices, North Shore ratepayers who used 10,000 gallons of water each month for three months would be charged $147.11, or $49.04 per month, nearly five times as much as Jericho’s customers.

Including taxes, North Shore district residents pay roughly an additional $281.13 — or $93.71 per month — along with their rates. Residents in Jericho pay an additional $17.97 in taxes per quarter, or $5.99 per month.

Source: Citizens Campaign for the Environment

American Water has agreed to sell its property at 325 Prospect Ave. in Sea Cliff to the village, discounting it by $1 million. This would enable the village to take ownership of the two-and-a-half acre lot, which consists of an office building and a pump station, for $600,000 and repurpose it. 

Additionally, all ratepayers throughout the water district — which includes Sea Cliff, Glen Head, Glenwood Landing and some residents of Glen Cove, Roslyn Harbor and Old Brookville — will split a $1.6 million credit on their future water bills, in accordance with recommendations made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“We have worked collaboratively with the village to preserve this unique parcel of open land, while ensuring the net proceeds of the $1.6 million proposed sale would benefit our Sea Cliff customers,” NYAW President Lynda DiMenna said in a statement. “New York American Water will be submitting a petition regarding the proposed sale for the New York State Public Service Commission’s consideration and approval.”

Sea Cliff village administrator Bruce Kennedy said the village and NYAW are working on a joint petition, which they intend to submit to the PSC within the next few days. The property sale agreement still must be approved by the state Supreme Court and the PSC and pass through a 30-day public comment period before the purchase can become official.

In an executive session at its Aug. 7 meeting, the Sea Cliff board of trustees discussed the village’s next step in moving forward with pending litigation involving New York American Water and the New York Public Service Commission, according to a press release provided by the village the following day.

The village brought an Article 78 proceeding against NYAW in September of 2017 in response to “unreasonable” rate increases for Sea Cliff residents. An April 2018 PSC report found that NYAW’s “erroneous tax calculations” caused an overpayment of $2.3 million over the previous four years. Sea Cliff ratepayers were overcharged by $282,000, or $65.50 per customer, according to the report. Cuomo eventually stepped in, insisting NYAW correct its mistakes and compensate ratepayers for their overpayments.

Kennedy and Sea Cliff Mayor Ed Lieberman both said the discounted purchase of the property will benefit the village and its residents. “The potential of obtaining this property would be an incredible benefit to the residents of the Village of Sea Cliff,” Kennedy said, “not only because it can be used for a variety of public services, but it would also ensure that a developer would never take over the property.”

Lieberman said he is “very excited” about the village’s progress throughout these proceedings. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a win-win situation,” he said, later adding, “We’re very pleased that this is finally on the verge of being resolved.”

He also said that the proceedings are, in part, meant to help establish a public water entity for Nassau County, which would effectively end residents’ dependence on private water companies like NYAW. He said the village has received state grants secured by former Sen. Carl Marcellino and Sen. Jim Gaughran, a Democrat from Northport, to make that happen.

Most expensive on L.I.

According to a study by Citizens Campaign for the Environment released on Tuesday, there is a massive discrepancy between what residents across Long Island are paying for their water. And with annual estimates of $1,124.52 in water payments per year, the North Shore-Sea Cliff district is the most expensive. For comparison, ratepayers in Jericho, who live less than 10 miles away, pay an average of $195.89 per year on water.

“New York American Water is aware of the inequity of the tax system, which places a burden on New York American Water customers while all other Long Islanders are exempted,” said Lee Mueller, NYAW’s external affairs manager. “For our Service Area 2 North Shore customers, taxes make up 59 percent of their bill. We will continue to work with elected officials to right this wrong for the benefit of our customers.

“Furthermore, we would caution against comparing rates between public and private water systems, as there are significant differences between the two in terms of taxes, rate structures and investments,” Mueller continued. “New York American Water makes significant investments in our infrastructure to ensure the sustainability of our systems and to deliver high-quality water to our customers that meets all regulations, including pending regulations regarding emerging contaminants.”

Gaughran, who has long advocated for public water on Long Island, released a statement condemning NYAW.

“NYAW is not only the single most expensive water provider on Long Island, its rate structure is confusing and difficult to navigate, [its] customer service is abysmal, the company lacks transparency and fails in communications with customers,” he said. “This report underscores that clean, safe drinking water is a human right and affirms our battle for public water on Long Island.”

Agatha Nadel, of Glen Head, is a founding member of North Shore Concerned Citizens, a local group dedicated to fighting NYAW’s presence in the community and establishing a public water entity. She said that while she is pleased the $1.6 million credit should benefit the entire district, any relief that ratepayers receive would be negated by further surcharges.

Nadel is also part of a village task force tasked with developing a feasibility study to establish a public water entity. She said she is “cautiously optimistic” that the study will yield a positive outcome and that the Town of Oyster Bay will ultimately condemn NYAW. She hopes to see support from Albany in grants to buy out NYAW. 

“The goal is still affordable public water,” Nadel said. “As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t going change the end goal.”

When Nadel heard that the North Shore Water District was the most expensive on Long Island, she said she was not surprised. In fact, she said she was almost glad to see the district at the top of the list, as it validated what she and others in North Shore Concerned Citizens have been “screaming and fighting about” for years. Now she hopes that elected officials will step in to bring public water to the North Shore Water District.

Steve Warshaw, of Glen Head, said he is more concerned with NYAW’s continued high water rates than the village’s securing of the Prospect Avenue property. “It’s a sad epilogue that we get stuck with high bills,” he said, “and Sea Cliff purportedly gets a good reduced price on a piece of land that they believe is valuable to them.”

County unveils ‘significant’ $4B plan to address nitrogen pollution


Suffolk County officials last week unveiled a $4 billion plan they say will serve as a blueprint for transitioning away from traditional cesspools, which have been identified as a main culprit of nitrogen pollution in ground and surface waters.

Approximately 74% of county residents rely on “antiquated” on-site wastewater disposal systems. Cesspools were outlawed in new construction in 1973 and, as of July 1, legislators amended the county sanitary code to close a loophole that allowed existing cesspools to be replaced with newer models of the same technology.

The Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan calls for the elimination of more than 253,000 cesspools countywide, either by replacing them with innovative or alternative wastewater systems, known as IA, or by connecting properties to existing and expanded sewer districts. The plan would be implemented in four phases over the next 50 years.

Officials say that if the plan is implemented, worsening water quality trends could begin to reverse within 10 years.

“This plan represents the first meaningful strategy to address legacy septic nitrogen pollution since countywide sewering objectives were abandoned some four decades ago,” said Walter Dawydiak, director of environmental quality for Suffolk County.

County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said the plan is “significant” and “will serve as an invaluable tool as we move forward” in cleaning local waters.

Scientific data shows that nitrogen pollution is the main driver behind harmful algal blooms and fish kills, and threatens Long Island’s drinking supply, which comes from a sole-source aquifer.

Data from a 2010 Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources management plan shows that between 1987 and 2005, nitrogen levels in the upper glacial aquifer increased by 40%. During the same period, levels in the magothy (lower) level rose by 200%.

Health officials estimate that 70% of the nitrogen found in local waterways can be attributed to 360,000 cesspools and septic systems across Suffolk County.

Stormwater runoff and lawn fertilizers also contribute to nitrogen pollution.

Joyce Novak, executive director of the Peconic Estuary Program, described the plan as a “giant leap” toward a healthier ecosystem and cleaner waters in the Peconics.

“The Peconic Estuary is a system driven in large part by groundwater,” she said Friday. “Based on sound science, this new plan outlines a clear strategy for addressing nitrogen input to our bays and coastal waters via groundwater pathways,” thus enabling a more targeted approach to reducing nitrogen.

A key component of implementing the plan’s recommendations will be identifying a $50 million annual funding source that will make new systems or sewer connections affordable for residents. The plan references measures taken in other states, such as the Bay Restoration Fee in Maryland and fees on water consumption in Spokane, Wash., as examples county lawmakers could follow.

During Phase I of the plan, which would run until 2023, officials estimate that 5,000 cesspools would be replaced through a continuation of the county’s current voluntary program. An additional 5,000 homes along south shore waterways would be connected to sewer districts as part of the post-Sandy Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative. It’s also estimated that approximately 4,000 new construction units would be required to install IA systems.

All work in this phase could be funded through existing grant sources, officials said, including $440 million in federal and state funding the county has already been awarded and an anticipated $95 million in grants for IA technology.

The management plan also calls for amendments to the county sanitary code that would require the use of new IA systems in all new construction starting in 2020 and the creation of a countywide wastewater management district. In addition, the plan recommends that lawmakers include a stipulation that septic systems be replaced when properties are expanded or sold and when existing systems fail.

In Phase II, 177,000 cesspools and septic systems in high-priority areas, identified in the plan as low-lying coastal areas, would be eliminated between 2024 and 2054 at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion.

Phase III calls for upgrades in other low-lying priority areas over 15 years at a total cost of $730 million.

Phase IV, which extends to 2068, would cover all remaining areas in the county at a projected cost of $1.3 billion, bringing the overall cost of the program for all phases to $4 billion.

Environmental advocates applauded the plan, which is currently undergoing a detailed environmental review by the county Council on Environmental Quality. A 30-day public comment period is set to open Aug. 14, and public hearings are planned for Thursday, Aug. 29, at 6 p.m. in eastern Suffolk County and Thursday, Sept. 5, at 3 p.m. in western Suffolk, a health department spokesperson said. The locations are still being finalized and will be published within two weeks on the Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality website.

“While I have spent my career documenting the degradation of Long Island’s fisheries and aquatic habitats, it is inspiring to finally see a plan designed and implemented that will reverse course on decades of negative trajectories,” said Christopher Gobler, chair of coastal ecology and conservation at Stony Brook University.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the plan can help reverse decades of damage.

“It doesn’t just identify and characterize the problem, it sets forth an ambitious plan to solve the problem,” she said in a statement. “The lack of infrastructure to treat sewage is making our island polluted and unsustainable. We now have the road map to restore surface water quality within 10 years of implementing wastewater treatment upgrades.”

The plan is largely dependent on the growth of the burgeoning IA industry.

Currently, some Suffolk County residents are voluntarily testing such systems through a county grant program established to offset the cost of installing the systems, which can cost upwards of $20,000 and require more maintenance than traditional cesspools and septic systems.

During a presentation before the Riverhead Town Board in September 2018, Justin Jobin, an environmental project coordinator with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, noted that six systems have been provisionally approved for use in Suffolk County.

He provided provisional results of sampling conducted last year, which showed that some of the approved systems were struggling to reduce wastewater nitrogen content to the mandated maximum of 19 milligrams per liter. One system made by Orenco averaged 32.3 milligrams per liter of nitrogen during the sampling period, though the data was limited.

“You can’t draw a lot of scientific conclusions off of one system,” Mr. Jobin said during the presentation.

He also noted that the systems perform better in warmer weather.

Health department officials said the Orenco system has since improved to 21.9 mg/L and further improvement is expected.

Additional nitrogen reductions in initially underperforming systems were attributed to adjustments made to the systems’ operation and maintenance.

For 2018, the cumulative average performance for all six approved systems was 17.8 mg/L, officials said.

Despite the mixed results, Ms. Novak said the systems have led to a remarkable reduction compared to traditional septic systems, which release an average of 60 milligrams of nitrogen per liter.

“Suffolk County cannot approve any system that is above 19 mg/L, but what is being achieved here with nitrogen reduction is great news for a future of clean water,” she said.

The plan was developed based on findings from two studies: the Smarter Cities Challenge report, prepared by IBM in 2014, and the Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan, completed in 2015.

Funding for development, which began in 2016, came from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and brought together a multitude of stakeholders.

“The fight to reverse decades of nitrogen pollution from outdated cesspools and septic systems has created a unity of purpose among scientists, business leaders, environmentalists, the building trades and organized labor,” County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement.

But Mr. Bellone also stressed the need to allocate funds: “No plan to reverse nitrogen pollution will be successful unless policymakers find a way to make it easy and affordable for homeowners.”

Long Beach Water Among Most Expensive On Long Island, Study Finds


A new study shows Long Beach residents shell out hundreds of dollars a year for water.

LONG BEACH, NY — A new, in-depth analysis shows just how much Long Beach residents really pay for water. The Citizens Campaign for the Environment unveiled its comprehensive study on Tuesday.

Long Beach provides water to its own residents and charges the fifth highest amount on Long Island at $765.78 per year, the study found. Here's the breakdown for Long Beach:

Estimated cost for first 1,000 gallons of water: $4.41

Billing cycle: Quarterly 

Estimated cost per billing cycle: $190.71 (includes rates, taxes and service fees)

Estimated cost per year: $765.78 (includes rates, taxes and service fees)

Fee structure: 

Minimum charge: $52.44

$4.41 per 1,000 gallons for up to 12,000 gallons.

$4.72 per 1,000 gallons for 12,0001 - 150,000 gallons.

$4.79 per 1,000 gallons for 150,001 - 300,000 gallons.

$5.01 per 1,000 gallons for 300,001 - 600,000 gallons

$5.50 per 1,000 gallons for 600,001 and over.

Daily service charge:

$0.587 for 5/8 and 3/4 inch

$0.870 for 1 inch

While that may seem high, get this — New York American Water Service Area customers in the NorthShore-Sea Cliff area pay an estimated $1,124.52 a year, more than anywhere else on the island. Shelter Island Heights and service area 1 of the New York American Water Service Area rounded out the three most expensive districts. 

Adrienne Esposito, executive director at the organization, told Patch on Wednesday they initially thought that determining the cost of water on Long Island would be easy — they would grab the water rates from the various districts and compare them. 

"We found it easier to find the lost continent of Atlantis," she said.

Finding out what water districts charge is actually "obscure," "convoluted" and "cryptic," she told reporters on Tuesday. Some districts tack on fees separate from the actual water rates included in the bill, some have a yearly access fee, and still other have hidden fees that are separate from the water rates and are not included in the consumer bill, such as for infrastructure and water treatment.

New York American Water has a residential water service charge applied to every bill based on size of water meter. Those with a 5/8-inch water meter pay $12.50, while those with a 1-inch meter pay $17.74. Furthermore, rates for the district are based on various factors that "substantially fluctuate" depending on the community.

Esposito said it's a public right to know the price of water, and the major takeaway is that people don't know how much they pay. 

"The bottom line is there's no uniform cost for water," she said. "The existing pricing scheme is confusing and obscure for the public and it needs to be more transparent."

The report looks at how much water costs, where the different water costs are hidden in water and tax bills, and what that means for residents.

There are 48 water districts on the island, 11 in Suffolk County and 37 in Nassau County. The researchers said they used the most recent data available on water districts' websites and annual drinking water reports for the study. The vast majority of districts were also called multiple times for further data and verification of costs, the group said.

Researchers assumed a typical family had four members, which the typical uses about 10,000 gallons of water per month, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The organization also issued several recommendations: 

·         Consolidate water districts.

·         Establish a uniform rate structure with transparency.

·         Implement more incentives for conservation.

·         Educate the public on tiered water rate systems.

·         Ban private water districts.

Here's Just How Much Patchogue Residents Pay For Water 


A new study shows Patchogue residents shell out hundreds of dollars a year for water.

PATCHOGUE, NY — A new, in-depth analysis shows just how much Patchogue residents really pay for water. The Citizens Campaign for the Environment unveiled its comprehensive study on Tuesday. 

Patchogue, like 80 percent of the county, gets its water from the Suffolk County Water Authority, which services 1.2 million people. Here's the breakdown for the Suffolk County Water Authority:

Estimated cost for first 1,000 gallons of water: $2.028

Billing cycle: Quarterly 

Estimated cost per billing cycle: $88.75 (includes rates, taxes and service fees)

Estimated cost per year: $355 (includes rates, taxes and service fees)

Fee structure: 

·         Tier 1: $2.028/1,000 gallon for first 78,540 gallons

·         Tier 2: $2.34/1,000 gallon after first 78,540 gallons

·         Service fee per quarter: $27.91

Your turn: Tell us on Facebook or in the comments how much you pay for water.

While that may seem high, get this — New York American Water Service Area customers in the NorthShore-Sea Cliff area pay an estimated $1,124.52. That's more than anywhere else on the island. Shelter Island Heights and service area 1 of the New York American Water Service Area rounded out the three most expensive districts. 

Adrienne Esposito, executive director at the organization, told Patch on Wednesday they initially thought that determining the cost of water on Long Island would be easy — they would grab the water rates from the various districts and compare them. 

"We found it easier to find the lost continent of Atlantis," she said.

Finding out what water districts charge is actually "obscure," "convoluted" and "cryptic," she told reporters on Tuesday. Some districts tack on fees separate from the actual water rates included in the bill, some have a yearly access fee, and still other have hidden fees that are separate from the water rates and are not included in the consumer bill, such as for infrastructure and water treatment.

New York American Water has a residential water service charge applied to every bill based on size of water meter. Those with a 5/8-inch water meter pay $12.50, while those with a 1-inch meter pay $17.74. Furthermore, rates for the district are based on various factors that "substantially fluctuate" depending on the community.

Esposito said it's a public right to know the price of water, and the major takeaway is that people don't know how much they pay. 

"The bottom line is there's no uniform cost for water," she said. "The existing pricing scheme is confusing and obscure for the public and it needs to be more transparent."

The report looks at how much water costs, where the different water costs are hidden in water and tax bills, and what that means for residents.

There are 48 water districts on the island, 11 in Suffolk County and 37 in Nassau County. The researchers said they used the most recent data available on water districts' websites and annual drinking water reports for the study. The vast majority of districts were also called multiple times for further data and verification of costs, the group said.

Researchers assumed a typical family had four members, which the typical uses about 10,000 gallons of water per month, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The organization also issued several recommendations: 

·         Consolidate water districts.

·         Establish a uniform rate structure with transparency.

·         Implement more incentives for conservation.

·         Educate the public on tiered water rate systems.

·         Ban private water districts.

 Understanding the true cost of water on Long Island — it’s too complicated, group says


An analysis of the 48 water districts serving Long Island found “a confusing and widely variable network of costs” that makes it difficult for residents to decipher and understand the true cost of water — and does not provide incentives for conservation.

A report released yesterday by the environmental advocacy group Citizens Campaign for the Environment says the annual cost of water to residential customers on the island varies widely, from $148 for residents in the Greenlawn Water District in Suffolk to $1,124.52 for residents in the New York American Water Company’s service area two (North Shore-Sea Cliff in Nassau County.)

The Riverhead Water District is among the least expensive for residential customers in both L.I. counties, ranking as the 10th least expensive water provider at $333.71 annually for a typical residential customer, according to the analysis. A typical residential customer is one that uses approximately 10,000 gallons of water per month, according to the report. Riverhead last raised its water rates in 2016

The report initially ranked Riverhead the third least expensive provider on Long Island, but the original analysis did not take into account water district taxes paid by property owners, instead calculating only what a typical residential customer pays in usage fees.

The report will be corrected, Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito said.

The organization thought compiling data for a comparative analysis of residents’ water costs would be a straightforward task. They were surprised by the report states.

“Many water companies have additional costs on resident’s tax bills, some charge per 1,000 gallons of water, others are calculated by cubic feet of water. Some suppliers have flat costs, others have tiered costs. There are some water districts that do not have water,” according to the document. “A simple question turned into a rigorous investigative and mathematical analysis to determine how water rates differ between districts and communities.”

“It would have been easier to decode the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Esposito quipped.

In addition to assessing the variances in costs, the analysis looked at the factors that influence water rates, including privatization and annual property taxes.

“The public has a right to know about the true and total cost of water,” the organization said in an introduction to the report, titled “What Does Your Water Cost? A compressive analysis of residential water costs on Long Island.” Read full report here.

According to the report, a typical customer of the Suffolk County Water Authority pays $355 per year, including $111.64 annually in service charges. The water authority is by far the largest water provider on the island, serving 1.2 million customers.

The second largest provider on L.I. is the New York American Water company, a private, for-profit company that serves 135,000 customers in Nassau County. It is also has the most expensive water costs of all 48 districts, with annual water costs to residents of between $719 and $1,125 in its three service areas.

The organization advocates for holding Long Island’s drinking water supplies “as a public trust, not sold as a luxury item by private companies.”

All drinking water on Long Island needs to be controlled by public municipalities and priced fairly for all consumers because the public has a right to clean water, CCE says.

CCE recommends consolidation of small water districts with larger ones. Water districts that do not produce their own water — there are eight of them island-wide — and districts serving less than 10,000 people — 15 districts, according to the report — should merge with neighboring water districts, CCE says. Consolidation would reduce costs and ensure water quality.

Understanding water costs helps to incentivize participation in conservation efforts as well as promote behavioral changes to protect water from pollutants, the organization said.

All water districts should establish straightforward water rates in gallons — some presently charge by the cubic foot — and should have clearly identifiable tiers, or rates that increase with greater water use in order to promote conservation, CCE says.

“The tiers should be comprehensible, not based on hard to understand thresholds. Specific rates, tiers, and any additional fees or taxes should be readily available for customers to ascertain in consumer-friendly online information and on their printed bill. Each district should be required to maintain an updated website,” the report says.

CCE says water bills should include a line item which informs people of any taxes placed on their tax bill associated to the cost of water including but not limited to the cost for capital investments and treatment for that district. Separating the capital costs of water without adequately informing consumers misleads the public about the total cost of water, the report says.

Water districts should also implement more tangible incentives to conserve water, CCE says, including adopting separate and higher rates for sprinkler systems to better hold people accountable for this water usage, according to CCE.

Sculpture Unveiled At Jones Beach To Educate Public About Plastic Debris


JONES BEACH, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — A new sculpture has been unveiled at Jones Beach and the artwork has a big message behind it.

It’s a 32-foot, 2,500-pound metal whale that’s been named “Jonesy” and towers over the bath house at Jones Beach. Currently, it’s just a shell, but the sculpture is meant to house plastic litter picked up at the beach.

“It's designed to teach people plastic pollution actually harms and kills our marine life, such as whales, but also dolphins, and turtles and seals,” explained Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Once Jonesy is full of the plastic debris collected on the beach, the sculpture will serve as a reminder for the public to never leave garbage on the beach.

Esposito is encouraging everyone to begin erasing plastic from their daily lives and use alternatives instead.

“It's easier than ever today to avoid using plastics. We have reusable bags, reusable water bottles. We even have reusable utensils made out of bamboo, but if people do use plastics, the message is don't throw them on the beach or on the ground,” she said.

Jonesy is modeled after a giant humpback whale.

Bee Warriors



The first sentence in the introduction of a report by the Center for Biological Diversity, February 2017, “Pollinators in Peril: A systematic status review of North American and Hawaiian native bees,” by Kelsey Kopec and Lori Ann Burd, reads, “Bees are in trouble.” While of course most of us know this fact already, it remains both sad and scary to read.

The logo “Save the Bees” has been plastered all over the place for years now, and with good reason. A genuine sense of concern for their demise is ever present. But besides buying T-shirts and bracelets (of course for a good cause they help!) with cute yellow and black cartoon caricatures drawn on them I had to think, “What more can we do to help?” And, “Just how bad is the problem in our area of the world?”

According to the New York Bee Sanctuary, “Honey bees, wild bees, and other pollinators face a nexus of severe threats: Habitat loss and degradation, toxic insecticides, pests and pathogens, climate change, and the monoculture crop system have all been identified as factors in their decline.”

Standing on the frontlines dedicated to helping precious Anthophila (bees), is Guillaume Gauthereau, founder and executive director of New York Bee Sanctuary. When I asked Gauthereau what we can do to help, his quick reply will stop many people (especially landscapers) in their tracks, “Stop cutting your lawns,” he urges. “Everytime you cut a lawn, these working insects basically see them as dead.”

Gauthereau suggests the alternative of letting things grow wild. “Wild prairies are what bees and other pollinating insects need to do their job.”

While some folks may find the above action drastic, and never consent to getting rid of their lush green grass that has become a staple in their lives, there are of course other ways to help bees flourish. Setting up gardens with native Long Island flowers on at least parts of individual properties can surely help. These can in fact become part of the BEEsafe certified sanctuary program with the New York Bee Sanctuary. Simply head to their site to find out if your garden or space matches their criteria and register. All are welcome to apply.

Another proponent of bees is Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign Organization, who shares that, “Suffolk County is the second largest agricultural county in New York State, and relies on healthy ecosystems to sustain the viability and success of this industry.”

She continues, “The role of the bee is so incredibly intricate and valuable; yet so hidden.”

Esposito made it clear that besides crippling our food sources on Long Island, more things on Long Island that help keep us afloat financially would diminish without bees. Things such as our “massive horticultural industry and places such as wineries would suffer as well.” she said.

Esposito explained that we have to admit the dangers of pesticides when even global industries such as “Scott’s has agreed to phase out the use of neonicotinoids, which are the classification of pesticides that are associated with the die-off of several bee species including honey bees.”

Do we have a long way to go in the battle against getting rid of pesticides? Esposito says, “Yes! Pesticides are designed to kill insects and weeds. They have numerous unintended consequences and the dramatic decline in bee populations is one of those devastating consequences. We must change our reliance on these toxic chemicals. Our future depends on it.”

One thing I noticed while reading through the Center of Biodiversity’s review was that it eventually shifts from devastating numbers of decline to education on the different bees that exist. So how important is educating everyone on bees and their crucial role in our survival? Esposito and Gauthereau both agree that it could be a key component in helping pollinators survive and thrive.

It’s amazing how much work these heroes of bees are doing in order to save the lives of bees. But they are missing a big piece of support. When I mentioned the federal government’s recent decision for the Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to no longer collect data on honey bees, Esposito remarked, “The only one who seems to not understand this crisis is the federal government.”

The report ends with, “We need to take aggressive steps to better understand and protect our precious bee species before it is too late.” While some things seem to be in the wrong direction, there are many people giving it their all to save them.

Hybrid Cargo Boat Forges Farm Produce Shipping Route Between Long Island and Connecticut


The Captain Ben Moore, one of the nation’s first hybrid cargo boats, is sailing the deep blue sea, or at least the Long Island Sound version of it, transporting farm produce between Huntington and Norwalk, Conn., in what may be the start of a new era in the way America delivers goods.

The 65-foot catamaran hybrid’s debut is a 10-year-old dream come true for Norwalk native Robert Kunkel, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant and Merchant Mariner who wanted to use the local waterways much the way people did over a century ago, before the construction of massive interstate highways, when trucking became king.

His Long Island Sound ferry service, Harbor Harvest, is named for an artisanal grocery and café in Norwalk he has run with his wife, Marilyn Kunkel, since 2015. The catamaran is named after a sailor who years ago became Kunkel’s mentor. “This is all about removing freight congestion from the highways and moving them to the waterways,” Kunkel says. “We had moved freight on the waterways for centuries in this country.” 

Harbor Harvest seeks to be an eco-friendly farm-to-fork distribution network. Kunkel said the key to his ferry service is to transport farm produce, and even some small packages, across the Sound in about 45 minutes, compared to several hours by trucks traveling the Long Island Expressway and I-95. Kunkel said his service will not only be faster, but cheaper and more environmentally friendly than trucking.

“The country became enamored with the trucking industry,” says Kunkel, a marine engineer. That began, he noted, once President Dwight Eisenhower instituted the Federal Highway Act in 1956, calling for the construction of 41,000 miles of an interstate highway system, then the largest public works project in American history.

Three years ago, Kunkel and Derecktor Shipyards of Mamaroneck, in Westchester County, one of the last of the famous New York shipbuilders, developed the hybrid boat, which runs on an electric battery system. The boat has 300 square feet of open cargo space, 100 square feet of indoor covered cargo space and 140 square feet of walk-in refrigerated space.

Kunkel said several Long Island and Connecticut produce companies and wineries have expressed interest in signing on with his ferry service.

In a recent major boost, Harbor Harvest was awarded a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, which will help defray the cost of building a second boat, which is now in the planning stages. The money is also to be used to build docking space in Huntington.

“The goal…is to provide a viable source of waterborne transportation for Connecticut and Long Island farmers and manufacturers by connecting neighboring communities, in addition to creating produce markets in both Connecticut and New York,” the Maritime Administration said in announcing the grant in March.

The ferry service has already won high praise from environmentalists. 

“We think this is an absolutely wonderful idea,” says Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The farm-to-table movement is growing across the country, and this service is coming along at just the right time.” 

Kendra Hems, president of the 600-member Trucking Association of New York, says her organization supports efforts to help eliminate congestion on the roads.

“The projection for the growth of freight is astronomical,” Hems says. “We expect that there will be shifts in the manner in which goods are shipped. We’re not opposed” to shipping by water. But, she said, “There will always be a need for trucks.”

The future of waterway shipping could be very bright indeed.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has issued a request for proposals to companies or individuals interested in opening a new marine terminal in the South Bronx to serve businesses on the Hunts Point Peninsula, in hopes of providing an alternative to trucking to move food and other products.

“We understand that highway congestion is chronic in New York,” says Andrew Genn, senior vice president of ports and terminals for the NYCEDC. “We certainly don’t want to end all trucking, but to make the system more resilient. The cross-Sound project is a good idea.” 

For his part, Kunkel is happy to be sailing the Sound. 

“I’ve been working on this a long time,” he says. “We’re going to open new markets here.” 

Parente calls water pricing study ‘flawed’


A recent study cited by CBS News showed that East Williston is paying some of the highest water rates on Long Island,  but Mayor Bonnie Parente said the “flawed” analysis ignores the differences in taxes that other municipalities with water districts may also be paying.

“It was flawed,” Parente said. “It did not compare apples to apples.”

A study conducted by the Citizens Campaign for the Environment called “What Does Your Water Cost?” places East Williston’s water district at fourth place in the top 10 most expensive water districts on Long Island. The study hit the public eye after an Aug. 13 CBS story cited its findings.

When it comes to water bills and understanding why exactly they cost what they do, Adrienne Esposito, executive director for the organization, said: “There should be more clarity.”

Esposito said East Williston is one of the “waterless water districts” on Long Island since the village does not have its own water supply.  Instead, the village must purchase its water from the Williston Park Water District.

The organization’s study said while Long Island is a sole source aquifer, meaning 100 percent of water comes from underground aquifers, there are about 48 waters districts on Long Island. There are 37 in Nassau County and 11 in Suffolk County.

The study found that in East Williston, the approximate total annual cost of water is $814.80, averaging about $6.79 per 1,000 gallons up to 100,000 gallons of usage and then at $7.04 per 1,000 gallons over 100,000 gallons of usage.

By comparison the study said that in Williston Park’s water district, East Williston’s water provider, the approximate total annual cost of water is $616.80, averaging about $5.14 per 1,000 gallons and then at $5.36 per 1,000 gallons over 50,000 gallons of usage.

“They become the broker,” Esposito said about the Williston Park district. “People in Williston get the same water.”

Parente said the study did not take into account the differences other municipalities pay in taxes. The mayor said municipalities that have their own water districts also have other costs built into their taxes as a result of having to maintain the operation of their water district. Parente said CBS News and the study itself “did not do the work” by trying to break down and study these differences.

In fact, she said municipalities like East Williston should be praised for purchasing all of their water from another district, saying, “How many water towers do we want around Long Island?”

The study said East Williston has a population of 2,500. Esposito said that municipalities like East Williston, which is part of the study’s “districts serving less than 10,000 population” list, should merge with Williston Park’s water district and become what Esposito called “The Williston Water District.”

Parente said that consolidating Williston Park and East Williston into one water district had been considered by the villages years ago, but said  “that was discussed and dismissed.” She had no further comment on consolidation.

On the (water) table


A report by Citizens Campaign for the Environment on water rates paid by Long Islanders seems likely to have some legislative legs.

The report found that many water districts have confusing and abstruse ways of reporting how much water customers use, which obscures the cost of that water.

Released last week, the report comes on the heels of state legislation sponsored by Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) passed in the 2018 session that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, requiring that water districts that serve more than 10,000 customers publish water used in gallons — as opposed to something unintelligible, like cubic feet per second. They also must include a seasonal variation so customers know how much water they have used over time.

“The idea is based on conservation,” Kaminsky told The Point. “If you know how much you used you might say, ‘Oh my God,’ and cut back.”

Kaminsky, chair of the Senate’s environmental conservation committee, said he and James Gaughran (D-Northport), chair of the local government committee, have talked about expanding the law’s mandate to include districts serving smaller numbers of customers.

“There’s no doubt we could reconsider that,” Kaminsky said, “and we could reconsider whether water districts that don’t have water should be selling water,” a reference to the eight providers in the report who buy water from a neighboring districts and sell it to their own customers with higher fees.

Kaminksy said he’s also mulling whether to subject elections for water district commissioners to campaign finance laws.

Join us for a Jones Beach Cleanup and the Unveiling of “Jonesy the Whale”


Jonesy is a 32-foot, 2,500 pound metal sculpture designed to educate the public to fight plastic pollution in our Ocean!


Plastic pollutes our beaches, bays, and harbors; and is harmful to fish, turtles, birds, and other wildlife.  Help us to combat plastic pollution by participating in a beach cleanup and the unveiling of a giant whale metal sculpture.  This event brings together art and environmental activism.


Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Atlantic Marine Conservation Society will be joining Governor Cuomo and a coalition of water protection advocates for beach cleanup followed by a press event unveiling Jonesy the Whale, a 3D art instillation crafted from mesh metal. We will be filling Jonesy with the plastic pollution we collect. The end result will be a large-scale sculpture of the whale, which will symbolize the hazards of marine debris and serve as a reminder for the public to never leave garbage on the beach!

Please RSVP to or 631.317.0030 to participate in the beach cleanup.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Beach Cleanup: 9:30 a.m.

Press Conference and Sculpture Unveiling: 11:00 a.m.

Jones Beach State Park, East Bathouse, Wantagh, NY

Thank you for joining us!
Your friends at CCE


The scoop on dog cleanup under new plastic bag law


By Daphne Saloomey

Friday, August 2, 2019

Stew Leonard Jr., the president and CEO of Stew Leonard's, and his daughter Blake are among many kissing single-use plastic bags goodbye as a result of the statewide tax that went into effect Thursday, Aug. 1.

Supermarket shoppers may be adapting to the statewide plastic bag tax that took effect Thursday, but are dog owners ready?

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says 30 percent of Connecticut households own dogs. Those that re-purpose plastic grocery bags as poop collectors might soon lose access to their never-ending supply. While there’s not an outright ban, Connecticut consumers are now being charged 10 cents for each single-use plastic bag.

There are alternatives, though.

Among the simplest is buying dog waste bags, which are readily available. Laura McMillan, director of communications for the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and Save the Sound, suggests reusing other plastic bags that have not been taxed, such as those used for meat or produce bags.

“Continuing to pick up dog poop is really critical,” McMillan said. “A lot of people think it’s OK to leave it on the ground because they think it’ll get absorbed the next time it rains, or they toss it in a storm drain, thinking it’ll go to a waste treatment plant.”

While there is some logic in both of those tactics, ultimately they are harmful to the environment, McMillan said. Dog waste can contain pathogens that are harmful to both humans and the ecosystem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to dog poop can cause diseases such as tapeworm and campylobacteriosis, a diarrhea-inducing infection, in humans.

Bacteria from dog poop can also seep into the ground and into waterways, resulting in elevated pathogen levels at Connecticut beaches. Nitrogen from the waste that gets washed into the Long Island Sound can cause algae blooms which deoxygenate areas of the water, McMillan said.

A matter of manners

Collecting dog poop is not just an environmental issue.

“It’s part of being a good neighbor to pick up after your pet,” said Louis Rosado Burch, the Connecticut program director for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and an advocate for a plastic bag ban.

Scooping is also the law in some municipalities — including Bridgeport, Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford — and violation can be punished by fines ranging from $50 to $150.

“We don’t view the bag (tax) as a barrier to everyday folks being able to pick up after their pets,” Burch said.

The bag tax might even spur dog owners to pursue more environmentally friendly collection methods that avoid using plastic.

“When you look at the old slogan of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ that’s actually a hierarchy,” Burch said. “We should be reducing and the plastic bag is a low hanging fruit — it’s easy to replace with something else.”

The most sustainable method is to use some sort of tool, a shovel or pooper scooper, for example, to collect the waste and flush it down the toilet.

Though many agencies, including Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, advise against flushing cat litter, disposing of dog waste in this manner is EPA approved and eliminates plastic use.

This method, however, only works in certain scenarios. Lugging a shovel on a long walk, for instance, is not as manageable as using one to clean up after a dog in the yard.

Breaking it down

Distance walkers might instead consider eco-friendly bags made out of bio-materials such as corn and vegetable oils.

When searching for these products, the distinction between biodegradable and compostable is an important one. Biodegradable bags are designed to break down naturally, but often there is no guarantee that they will do so quickly.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, biodegradable products are supposed to break down in one year, but some companies make the claim even if their products do not fit the criteria. In 2015, the FTC sent warnings to 20 dog waste bag manufacturers for making what the agency said were deceptive environmental claims.

It is generally safer to go for compostable bags, which are required to meet federal standards.

Still, Burch said, “It’s important that people understand (compostable bags are) designed to break down in certain conditions, like in a composting facility. Consumers can’t just dispose of them outside.”

While using compostable bags is acceptable, adding dog poop to a personal compost pile is not.

“Adding the waste of any animal that eats meat is an absolute no,” said Carol Quish, a horticulturist that teaches in UConn’s Master Composting Program.

Killing the pathogens that reside in dog waste independently is just too hard, as it requires a constant temperature of 165 degrees for at least five days, according to DEEP.

Rather than doing it on their own, dog owners looking to use pet waste as compost would be better off giving it to a specialized facility, such as Green Pet Compost Company in Oregon. But there appear to be no companies that currently offer similar services in Connecticut.

For those looking to send poop away without getting their own hands dirty, there are businesses, such as POOP911 or DoodyCalls, that offer residential waste-removal services.

If the new tax realizes its goal and fewer plastic bags are used, many dog owners will have to adjust.

“There’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve for folks,” McMillan said. “People who find ways that work for them should share them with their neighbors.”


Highlights and Happenings: July 2019


Help CCE build on our success, and support our campaigns to protect public health and the environment in NY and CT. Make a contribution today.




Governor Cuomo Signs Nation’s Strongest Climate Bill into Law

We were excited to witness history as Governor Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act into law. This law requires net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, 70% renewable energy by 2030, funding for low income and frontline communities, carbon-free electricity by 2040, and more. In addition, Governor Cuomo announced two new offshore wind projects, off of NYC and Long Island, which will generate 1,700MW—enough to power over one million homes with clean, local energy! Thank you again to Senator Kaminsky and Assemblyman Englebright for championing this legislation through the legislature.


Calling on Presidential Candidates to Support Great Lakes Restoration
We joined with our partners at the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition to release a Great Lakes platform and urge presidential candidates to explain how they will support efforts to restore the Great Lakes and protect New York’s drinking water. The platform highlights the need for presidential candidates to support a $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, triple water infrastructure funding, uphold clean water protections, reduce harmful algal blooms, and prevent Asian carp from entering the lakes. CCE is not endorsing, nor opposing, any candidate.


Celebrating Water Reuse on Long Island

SUEZ and Nassau County have invested in Long Island’s largest water reuse project at their Cedar Creek wastewater treatment plant in Wantagh, NY. The project will save almost one million gallons of water per day and the water treated from the sewage treatment plant will be reused for plant operations. In July, CCE joined County Executive Curran, the SUEZ team, and other water protection advocates for a press conference and a tour of the water reuse operation at the facility.

Keeping Up the Fight Against 1,4-Dioxane
The New York State Legislature passed a bill banning 1,4-dioxane in household products, and we are now pushing for the Governor to sign the bill into law. In July, the NYS Department of Health proposed the strongest drinking water standard for 1,4-dioxane in the nation (1 part per billion)! While we push at the state level, we are continuing to work with municipalities to combat this emerging contaminant local level. In July, we joined several Long Island water suppliers and Nassau County Legislators for a press conference and a public hearing, including a panel discussion with CCE’s Adrienne Esposito, to discuss what Nassau County can do to protect our drinking water and public health from 1,4-dioxane at the local level.


Tackling PFAS Contamination in Connecticut
On June 12, 50,000 gallons of water and PFAS foam stored at Bradley Airport leaked into the Farmington River. In July, CCE joined U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, along with environmental advocates and local leaders, to call on congress to reclassify PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019. This effort failed, but CCE and the Senator continue to push for federal regulation of PFAS chemicals by the EPA, and funding to clean up existing drinking water contamination from PFAS chemicals. In addition, we joined the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a public forum to discuss the PFAS contamination in the Farmington River. For those in the area, contamination levels in the river have fallen, but DEEP still recommends avoiding eating fish caught in the river.

Next Up in the Fight Against Plastic Pollution: Balloons
The balloons we release into the air do not just fly away; they end up in our lakes and oceans, killing wildlife and breaking down into harmful microplastics. Earlier this year, the Town of East Hampton, NY banned the intentional release of balloons, and now Suffolk County is considering following suit. In July, CCE and our partners in the fight against plastic pollution testified in favor of a county law banning the intentional release of balloons and requiring signage to educate the public on this important issue. Thanks to all who came out to the public hearing and supported the bill. We’ll keep working until we get this local law passed!

Welcoming New Research to Combat Nitrogen Pollution
We were proud to stand with Dr. Chris Gobler, Senators Kaminsky and LaValle, Assemblymembers Englebright and Thiele, the NYS DEC, and Suffolk County for the ribbon cutting ceremony at the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology’s new Wastewater Research & Innovation Facility (WRIF) in Suffolk County, NY. The facility is designed to test advanced nutrient removal systems to be used as alternatives to traditional on-site septic systems. To conduct research, the facility utilizes a constant supply of domestic wastewater from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works' (SCDPW) existing wastewater pumping station. This research is part of an ongoing commitment from Suffolk County and NYS to reduce nitrogen and other pollution from septic systems.

Reimagining the Erie Canal
The Reimagine the Canals Task Force is in the process of examining how the historic Erie Canal system can be redeveloped to become a more vital force for boosting local economies, tourism, recreation, and strengthening environmental resiliency. We attended a public meeting in Syracuse to raise and discuss environmental priorities as the task force begins to develop their recommendation to the Governor. We highlighted that this is an opportunity to address invasive species, improve climate change resiliency, restore habitats, mitigate flooding, and increase equitable recreational opportunities. We are continuing to work to ensure that environmental benefits are a priority as recommendations for the Canal are developed.


Trawling for Microplastics in the Great South Bay, LI
CCE has joined with Protecting the Environment in Patchogue, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Fire Island National Seashore, and St. Josephs College to further understand microplastics in rivers, bays, and harbors. In the next few months we will be seen out on Patchogue River and in the Great South Bay collecting water samples that will be analyzed for microplastics by St. Josephs College. Stay tuned for results!

In June, the Public Service Commission held public hearings on South Fork Wind Farm and the much-needed cable connection between the offshore wind turbines and the East Hampton power grid. We came out in force and testified on the importance of bringing 130mw of clean wind to Long Island.  CCE thanks everyone who came out to support wind power. If you missed the hearings, you can check out Adrienne Esposito’s testimony here and submit your own letters of support to

Save the Date: Water and Marine Mammals Forum on Fire Island
Join CCE and Atlantic Marine Conservation Society for a discussion on efforts to protect drinking water quality and marine mammals, including the record number of whales returning to our area. The forum is free and open to the public. It will be held on August 12, 11am-12:30pm, at Saltaire Library (103 Broadway) on Fire Island, NY.

Nassau lawmakers ask Andrew Cuomo to sign bill regulating 1,4 dioxane


July 29, 2019 

Nassau County legislators called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to sign legislation regulating the chemical 1,4 dioxane and asked for state grant money so Long Island water districts can purchase technology to enable them to meet strict new water quality standards by next year. 

In a public hearing Monday night in Mineola lawmakers, environmental advocates and water officials spoke about cost and timeline challenges of removing the 1, 4 dioxane from water wells on Long Island. The chemical is found in household cleaning products such as detergents and shampoos and, long term, can cause kidney and liver damage.

Legis. Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury), chairwoman of the county legislature's Planning, Development and the Environment committee, said lawmakers are concerned that without federal or state funding, the cost of treating 1,4 dioxane would get passed on to water district customers.   

"We just want to make sure that the state and the federal government are working with us so that it's not a tremendous impact on the taxpayer — it's important to us here in Nassau County where we pay very high taxes," Schaefer said. 

Earlier this year, Long Island water providers said it could cost $840 million to add treatment systems to 185 drinking water wells contaminated by 1,4-dioxane.

Hicksville Water District Superintendent Paul Granger said they are looking to implementing the technology to remove 1, 4 dioxane from their wells before the state standards are in place. The estimated cost is about $60 million for 10 wells where the chemical has been detected. The district receiving a $3 million grant, he said, and will pass the rest of the costs onto water customers.

"This lack of funding would force our district to raise water and tax rates more than 80 percent, respectively," Granger said. "We hold the product we serve to the highest standard, and as such will not provide our residents with water that does not meet the federal or state standards."   

The chemical is more prevalent in Long Island’s water than anywhere else in the state and far exceeds the national average, according to a federally mandated survey of emerging contaminants. 

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said she understands the cost problem for water districts and ratepayers but "let's not lose site of the compelling issue here."

"We have to get a cancer-causing contaminant out of our drinking water," Esposito said. 

The state health department identified 89 wells statewide — 82 of them on Long Island — where 1,4 dioxane was found at concentrations higher than 1 part per billion, the maximum level recommended by a state drinking water quality council panel.

A bill regulating 1,4 dioxane passed the State Legislature and awaits Cuomo's signature. It would ban the chemical in household products by the end of 2022. The manufacturing industry has fought the bill's passage saying it would result in the removal of many popular products from store shelves. 

A state spokesman said the governor is reviewing the bill.

Every member of the Nassau County Legislature supports the governor signing the bill.

“I am pleased that the Nassau County Legislature is unified in its call for Governor Cuomo to sign this law mandating the removal of 1, 4 — dioxane from personal care products. By banning the use of this harmful chemical, we can make great strides in our efforts to remediate Long Island's precious drinking water and protect public health," Legis. Debra Mulé (D-Freeport) who's office sent a letter to the governor.

Nassau Lawmakers Push Legislation To Limit Chemicals In Water Supply


JULY 29, 2019

MINEOLA, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Nassau County legislators on Monday will hold an informational meeting on the cancer causing chemical showing up in drinking water across Long Island.

For months, a known carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane – found in laundry detergent, shampoos, and other cleaning products – has been turning up in 185 drinking water wells on Long Island.

In Hicksville, the chemical is found at some of the highest levels and the scary part, according to Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, is that there is nothing residents can do or buy to filter it out of the water.

“People have been calling me saying, ‘you know, there’s a sign at such-and-such store saying, I sell filters that eliminate 1,4-dioxane.’ It's just not true,” Esposito said.

Lawmakers are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation to ban 1,4-dioxane from all cleaning products, including laundry detergent.

“We’re saying to them, you have to either reformulate or you have to filter. You figure out how to make laundry soap that doesn’t give us cancer when we drink the water,” Esposito said.

The county has already asked the federal government to set new stricter standards for the levels of chemicals allowed in drinking water and for hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up what was found in many districts.

As they await federal funding, some water district officials have, or will soon be adding filters to clean up the chemicals.

Water officials implore state to phase in dioxane regulations


While many Long Island water consumers have fears about the health effects of the  contaminant 1,4-dioxane, water officials also worry about the impacts proposed regulations will have on their ability to supply water. 

The Nassau County Legislature Planning, Development and Environment Committee hosted a 1,4-dioxane hearing on Monday night where water officials implored the state to phase in the proposed maximum contaminant level of 1 part per billion for the contaminant. 

The contaminant is a solvent often used in the manufacturing of other chemicals and has been classified by the EPA as a likely carcinogen. 

In December, the state Drinking Water Quality Council recommended a maximum contaminant level of 1 part per billion. In July, the state health commissioner ordered the  state Health Department to begin the process of adopting the recommended regulation. 

Donald Irwin of the Nassau County Department of Health told the Legislature that if the regulations are to be implemented by January, water authorities won’t be able to install the needed treatment infrastructure in time, a process that takes a minimum of two to three years. 

The only approved treatment in the state for 1,4-dioxane is an advanced oxidation process, whose installation is estimated to cost $15 million for water systems serving over 10,000 people, he said. The annual operating costs are estimated at $725,000. 

Irwin said that water departments will not be able to issue the same amount of water to residents and will have to impose strict water use restrictions. He said water pressure will drop and there will be less water reserved for firefighting needs. 

Dan Kelleher of H2M Engineers in Melville, who is a member of the Long Island Water Conference, said the 1,4-dioxane crisis is the worst he has seen in his 40 years in the industry. 

Officials also requested that the state Health Department take the lead in providing public education concerning the health risks associated with low-level contamination of 1,4-dioxane and short-term effects of drinking water above the maximum contamination level until the compliance date. 

Kelleher said that water departments do not plan on delivering water in violation of the maximum contaminant level and are considering action plans such as a blending of wells to produce water below the maximum contaminant level, sharing water between water suppliers, deepening wells and constructing new wells. 

“The water suppliers of Long Island find it hard to believe that the New York State Health Department can establish an MCL that may have an effective date that is less than one year from now,” he said, “knowing that water suppliers need at least two to three years to construct a treatment system.” 

Kelleher said the Garden City Park Water District, Town of Hempstead Water Department and Port Washington Water District are Long Island’s water districts that will be the most heavily impacted by the regulations. 

Democratic county legislators all signed a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo requesting that he sign legislation mandating the removal of 1,4-dioxane from all personal care products in the state. 

Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said a study launched by the organization on 80 household products found high numbers of 1,4-dioxane in most of the products ranging from high to low quality. 

She said higher-priced products do not have less of the contaminant. Of all the products studied, Esposito said Victoria’s Secret products were found to have the highest levels of 1,4-dioxane. 

“Her secret is, she’s trying to kill us,” Esposito said.