Long Island's water systems top the state in detected contaminants, study says

New York State is known for having some of the cleanest drinking water in the nation but the same doesn't hold true for all of its suburban counterparts, especially Long Island, according to a study by the New York Public Interest Research Group.

"Long Island had more water systems that detected emerging contaminates when compared to the rest of the state," NYPIRG environmental policy director Elizabeth Moran said.

The big difference is where the water comes from.

New York City has a unique water protection program that limits development near its upstate reservoirs, keeping pollutants far away from its water sources.

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

"It's listed by the U.S. EPA as a 'likely carcinogen,' which means it causes cancer, and unfortunately, it's found in 80% of our household products," said Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Low levels of exposure to 1,4-Dioxane can cause other health risks, too, like thyroid disorders and high cholesterol.

The Suffolk County Water Authority has invested in treatment systems to rid the groundwater of chemicals like 1,4-Dioxane but the cost doesn't come cheap. In fact, much of that cost gets tacked onto Long Islanders' water bills.

"‪We started detecting 1,4-Dioxane in the water supply… over a decade ago," Suffolk County Water Authority's Joseph Pokorny said. "And we started testing for it and we started to develop this type of system here as a small-scale pilot."

An advanced oxidation system, which costs roughly $1 million, is capable of removing up to 99% of 1,4-Dioxane from the water.