Suffolk County health officials remind the public that the deadline for submitting written comments regarding the Suffolk County Subwatersheds Wastewater Management Plan (the Plan) and the associated Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) has been extended to October 16, 2019. Suffolk County urges the public to make comments and takes steps that will help optimize the recommendations and findings provided in the Plan and the DGEIS.
The Plan and its associated DGEIS was the subject of detailed environmental review by the county’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). At its August 14, 2019, meeting and through CEQ Resolution No. 32-2019, the CEQ determined and recommended that the DGEIS was satisfactory and complete for public comment. Suffolk County convened two public hearings on September 5 and September 6 to receive comments on the implementation of a wastewater management strategy based on the recommendations presented in the Suffolk County Subwatersheds Wastewater Management Plan and the changes to the Suffolk County Sanitary Code required to implement these recommendations. In response to public comments, Suffolk County extended the public comment period from September 16, 2019, to October 16, 2019.
Development of the new wastewater plan was a primary recommendation of two major studies, the Smarter Cities Challenge report, prepared by a team of experts from IBM in 2014, and the Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan, completed by the county in 2015. Preparation of the Plan began in September 2016 and included staff from regulatory agencies, scientists, academic institutions, and national subject matter experts.
The Plan itself does not constitute a new law or regulation but rather provides a series of recommendations to reduce pollution from cesspools and septic systems over time by replacing them with new state-of-the-art nitrogen reducing septic systems, or, in some cases, by connecting homes to sewer systems. The Plan also identifies the establishment of a stable and recurring funding source to make the new systems or sewer connections affordable for homeowners as “paramount” and indicates that the recommendation of a countywide wastewater upgrade program cannot be advanced without the revenue source. If the full recommendations are enacted, the Plan anticipates that the trend of worsening water quality can be arrested and reversed within 10 years.
In addition to recommendations for wastewater management, the Plan provides the foundation for advancing strategies to reduce nitrogen from non-wastewater sources such as fertilizer and includes recommendations for addressing other compounds, such as contaminants of emerging concern, phosphorous, and pathogens.
Pursuant to the Citizens Public Participation Act, all citizens are invited to submit written testimony. Written comments are requested and will be accepted until the close of business on October 16, 2019. Interested citizens can access information regarding the Plan online at The Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan - A Roadmap to Reclaim Our Water.
Send comments to:
Ken Zegel, PE, Associate Public Health Engineer
Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Office of Ecology
360 Yaphank Avenue, Suite 2B
Yaphank, NY 11980