PFOA stands for "perfluorooctanic acid." It is used in a wide range of products. It is best known as a component of the chemical, Teflon, used in non-stick kitchen cookware. It is known to be toxic to humans and animals. Birds are especially sensitive to the chemical. It has been found in the water supply in Hoosik Falls, in upstate New York. It has also been found by one water supplier in Nassau County. In addition, PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid - - the sister chemical to PFOA), has been found in the private wells of residents living near the Gabreski aiprort, in Suffolk County. The US EPA recently recommended a drinking water guideline for PFOA or PFOS at 0.07 parts per billion. After the discovery, a program to collect more samples around the airport was undertaken. Reported by Jennifer Barrios, Newsday. July 30, 2016.
UPDATE: A group of residents who live around the Gabreski Airport and whose private wells have been contaminated with PFOS announced an intent to sue both the NYS DEC and Suffolk County. As many as 200 residents may have been affected by the PFOS contamination. At least one public water supply well in the area has also been affected. Reported by Bart Jones, Newsday March 21, 2017.
Two industries are cited for the PFOA discovered in up-state Hoosick Falls, New York drinking water. The industries that discharged the chemical over the years include Honeywell International (New Jersey Company) and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics (French Company). The State DEC is demanding that the companies finance the cleanup the area as a NYS Superfund site. The US EPA told the 4,500 residents in December 2014 to stop drinking their water due to the presence of PFOA. Reported by Mary Esch, Associated Press, Newsday, February 12, 2016. Governor Cuomo has recently called on the US EPA to set drinking water standards for PFOA and related compounds. (AP, March 16, 2016)
New York State now mandates that all public water suppliers (community and non-community systems) begin testing their water for three unregulated chemicals turning up in water supplies on Long Island and elsewhere. The 3 chemicals are: 1,4 Dioxane, PFOA and PFOS. Testing will be required at least once every 3 years. 1,4 Dioxane is found in consumer products such as detergents and shampoo and is also used as an industrial solvent. The Hicksville Water District has detected the highest level of 1,4 Dioxane in New York State in one of its wells. State and local Health Departments will monitor the testing. The program was mandated as part of the state budget process and was approved in April 2017. Reported by Emily Dooley, Newsday, April 11, 2017.
The Town of Brookhaven has adopted an ordinance that will require new homes that build within 500 feet of a waterway to install advanced sewage treatment systems. The new rule is intended to reduce nitrogen from on-site home wastewater systems that may flow into nearby streams, and harbors. Especially important is the new requirement that the advanced systems release a maximum of 8 mg/L of nitrogen in its effluent. Reported by Carl Macgowan, Newsday, June 14, 2016.
In Southhampton, several seasonal residents were reported to have the highest water use of any Long Island residents. A 4-acre estate owned by David Koch, reportedly used 20.7 million gallons of water in 2014, which is 100 times more than the average was customer who uses 160,000 gallons per year, according to the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA). Koch has used the most water of any homeowner for the past 4 years. The second largest consumer used 11.5 million gallons in 2014. The water bill for Koch in 2014 was $34,500 which included water for the home, grounds and a geothermal cooling system. The price of water for SCWA is $1.67 per 1,000 gallons. Reported by Will James, Newsday, October 26, 2015.
Grassroots Environmental Education, located in Port Washington, NY has kicked off a new and innovative program called, I Love Long Island. The program is designed to increase awareness of easy actions everyone can take to improve and protect our groundwater. The goal is to change how our lawns and gardens are cared for so that fertilizer impacts will be reduced. The program asks home owners to switch from high nitrogen, water soluble products to low nitrogen (10% maximum), non-water soluble versions. Lawn signs, educational brochures and pledge cards are part of the program. Water for Long Island is a proud supporter of this effort. For more information see: www.grassrootsinfo.org.
The Port Washington Water District identified high water use customers and requested that they conduct their own water audits to identify ways to lower their individual water use. The water district noted that about 1.49 billion gallons of water was used in 2015, which represented a 9% increase over water pumpage in 2011. The largest water use customers included:
The Port Washington Water District is to be commended on their efforts to bring water use issues to their customers and to help reduce water waste and over consumption. Reported by Scott Eidler, Newsday, July 21, 2016.
The Long Island region of New York State ended 2016 with another below normal rain fall year. Rainfall was approximately 25% below normal, or around 35 rather than 44 inches of rain. Low rain fall was recorded throughout most of the year. Riverhead and Smithtown governments urged residents to cut back on lawn watering over the summer of 2016. In April 2017, rainfall for Long Island returned to near normal levels. However, by mid-summer 2017 rainfall is approximately 2 inches below normal.
In January 2017, the New York State DEC asked all water suppliers on Long Island to develop updated water conservation plans designed to reduce annual water pumpage by 15%. The voluntary program will track performance for several years to assess how effective the conservation measures are. Reduced pumpage is especially important for water systems in Nassau County where the impacts of over-pumping are being seen in the spread of contamination plumes and saltwater intrusion along the shoreline portions of the aquifer system.