Pictured Above: A FujiClean IA/OWTS septic system installed in 2022 at a Flanders residence through the Suffolk County Septic Improvement Program.

To the Editor:

On June 21, Suffolk County Legislature made a horrible decision that negatively impacts us all. The majority voted against the Water Quality Restoration Act.

Nearly 50 constituents, representing thousands of members, supporters, and residents of Suffolk County, spent hours in Riverhead during a public hearing urging the Legislature to let voters choose a clean water future. The ask that night was simple: allow voters to approve the act this November. But legislators refused to advance the measure, sending it back to committee; seems the decision was made before listening to the public. 

What is the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act? Years in the making, it would create a fund to restore clean water by connecting homes and businesses to sewers and, for areas like the East End without sewers, finance clean water septic system replacements.

The fund would be financed by a tiny increase to the county sales tax – 1/8 of a penny. This ensures tourists and other visitors also contribute to bringing clean water back, while keeping the region economically viable. This fund will unlock Federal and State matching funds to further advance clean water objectives. Knowing all this, the legislators said no in a 10-6 vote.

Suffolk County has a dire need for wastewater upgrades and we may never get this chance again. Here on the East End, septic systems are a leading cause of nitrogen in the waters that surround us; a threat to both our environment and our economy. We can’t afford to wait. The County Legislature has one last chance to protect clean water and let voters decide: July 25.

A broad range of stakeholders — scientists, labor unions, public officials, building trades, business leaders — collaborated for years to develop a long-term solution to fix the county’s water quality crisis. Suffolk County approved the plan and sent it to the state, which included it in the 2023-24 budget and now that we have it, the Legislature is using delay tactics to deny voters the right to decide. Ask yourself why in an election year. 

East End Legislators Al Krupski and Bridget Fleming support the act. We need to tell the rest of Suffolk County Legislature: Let the voters decide their clean water future and put the Water Quality Restoration Act on the 2023 November election ballot. Attend the meeting July 25 and contact legislators here: https://www.scnylegislature.us/148/Legislators.  

Maggie Merrill

Letters to the editor may be emailed to editor@eastendbeacon.com or sent via U.S. Post to P.O. Box 665, New Suffolk, NY  11956. Please include your name, and a telephone number for verification purposes, and don’t submit letters under false names. The Beacon will print all letters that are deemed to not be defamatory, obscene or advertisements, and may edit submissions for clarity and grammar.

East End Beacon
The East End Beacon is your guide to social and environmental issues, arts & culture on the East End of Long Island.

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