EPA to Host Meetings on Suffolk Septic Systems

A diagram of the Nitrex advanced wastewater treatment system | Peconic Green Growth photo
A diagram of the Nitrex advanced wastewater treatment system | Peconic Green Growth photo

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is helping Suffolk County evaluate the health impacts of several proposed changes to the county’s septic code that could have an impact on East End homeowners, and they’re holding four public meetings in Suffolk County this week to explain the process and get feedback from residents here.

The county is considering three possible changes that could impact some or all of the owners of more than 350,000 cesspools in Suffolk County, in light of increasing nitrogen in bays and drinking water wells, linked to the nitrogen in urine that passes through those septic systems.

The county is evaluating either requiring all homeowners to upgrade their cesspools to current standards or requiring homeowners whose cesspool effluent will reach groundwater in 50 years or surface waters within 25 years to either upgrade to current standards or to install new onsite treatment systems.

The EPA is leading a health impact assessment (HIA) to help inform the County’s decision by evaluating the potential for the proposed changes to impact individual and community health.

You can read The Beacon’s coverage of the EPA’s last series of HIA forums in March of 2015 online here.

The first meeting will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Riverhead Free Library’s craft room, 330 Court Street, Riverhead, NY.

The second meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 17, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Brentwood Public Library, 32 Second Avenue in Brentwood.

The third meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 at the Port Jefferson Free Library meeting room at 100 Thompson Street in Port Jefferson, and the fourth meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, August 18 at the Suffolk County Legislative Auditorium, 360 Yaphank Ave. in Yaphank.

Prospective attendees can RSVP to Lauren Adkins at Adkins.lauren@epa.gov or contact Florence Fulk, U.S. EPA ORD, at Fulk.florence@epa.gov, for more information.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

3 thoughts on “EPA to Host Meetings on Suffolk Septic Systems

  • August 15, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Not all of cour septic tanks drain to the Bays – some drain to the Sound and in the east no 1-size-fits-all upgrades would be needed:

    • August 15, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      Hi, Paul, I believe there is a significant amount of work being done on prioritizing areas of greatest concern based on watershed, particularly on the South Fork. Stony Brook Southampton is working with Southampton Town to identify priority areas, and East Hampton’s natural resources department is also taking a watershed-based approach to its water quality improvement plan. In addition, I’ve seen maps the Peconic Estuary Program has put together and presented that provide a detailed analysis of both the watershed underlying land surrounding the Peconic Estuary and the different sources and loading of nitrogen in different areas of the watershed — your concerns are certainly valid, and are ones the environmental community seems to be working on addressing in helping government shape these new programs. But I’m sure they could use to have your voice backing them up!


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