Concerns raised about drinking water contamination on Long Island

Long Island’s four members of Congress are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide more financial support for local water providers and set stricter standards for chemical contaminants, following a report released by the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Representatives Kathleen Rice, Peter King, Tom Suozzi, and Lee Zeldin came together in East Meadow Tuesday to make the announcement.

Rice says the congressional delegation sent a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler more than ten days ago, but that their collective plea for help has yet to be answered.

"This is a serious public health crisis, and we need the EPA to act with the urgency that this situation requires," Rice said.

According to a recent study by the New York Public Interest Research Group, dangerous chemicals are contaminating the drinking water supplies of more than sixteen million New Yorkers.

"Here on Long Island, we found that more public water systems than anywhere else in the state also detected emerging contaminants,” says Liz Moran, the New York Public Research Interest Group Environmental Policy Director.

Long Island’s public water systems are rooted in the ground and are easily contaminated by chemicals and 1,4 dioxane, a solvent used in the production of other chemicals.

1,4 dioxane is listed by the EPA as a "likely carcinogen," which means it can cause cancer and other health problems.

Due to those risks, the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council has recommended that the EPA adopt a maximum contaminant level of one part per billion.

"We had such disturbing findings. In Hicksville: 33 parts per billion. The Water Authority of Western Nassau: 12 parts per billion," says Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Long Island Water Suppliers are emptying their pockets to test the groundwater supply and develop treatment solutions to make sure the drinking water meets both State and Federal standards.

Much of those costs come at taxpayer expense.

"We’ve estimated the cost for treatment for PFOS and PFOA around $840 million dollars, with annual operating costs of $45 million dollars," says Ty Fuller of the Suffolk County Water Authority.

A spokesman from the EPA responded to the congressional delegation's letter with a statement saying: "The EPA will reply at the appropriate time and matter."