For the Long Island region of New York State, the rainfall in the first half of 2020 is about 6 inches below normal for this point (July) in the annual totals. Until late December 2019, precipitation was slightly below average but late storms changed that. For New York City, rainfall is also running about 6 inches behind average but its upstate reservoirs are about 90+% of capacity.
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: The Hampton Bays Water District announced it filed a lawsuit (2-21-2018) against manufacturers who used PFOA and PFOS in their fire-fighting chemicals and which have subsequently turned up in 3 of the 11 wells in the district. The suit named 3M Co., Buckeye Fir Equipment Co., Chemguard Inc., Tyco Fire Products and National Foam Inc. Wells were found to contain PFCs (perfluorinated compounds) in 2016 and 2017 and were removed from service. Reported by Vera Chinese, Newsday, March 2, 2018.
New York American Water Co. (NYAW), the largest water utility in Nassau County, announced it has agreed to be sold to the Canadian conglomerate Liberty Utilities for $608 million (November 2019). New York American Water has been the topic of considerable dissatisfaction from customers regarding steep water prices that are the highest on Long Island. The company is a for-profit business and is regulated by the Public Service Commission. In a recent development, the Massapequa Water District announced in January, 2020 that it has begun the process of purchasing a part of the NYAW, known as East Massapequa. This portion of NYAW serves 5,600 customers and is adjacent to the Massapequa Water District, which is a not-for-profit water suppliers with substantially lower water prices. The Suffolk County Water Authority is also investigating the potential to take over NYAW as well. In a related matter, another part of NYAW, the Sea Cliff service area on the north shore, is also the subject of a takeover by the Jericho Water District. The Sea Cliff area serves about 4,500 customers.
The NYS DEC released the long-awaited revised cleanup plan for the Navy-Grumman groundwater plume and contaminated sites in Bethpage, N.Y. (May 2019) The revised plan was contained in a report known as an Amended Record of Decisions or AROD. The AROD presents 7 options for remediating the multiple plumes and keeping the contaminated groundwater from moving further south toward the coastline of Nassau County. Public comments are being accepted by the NYS DEC until July 7, 2019. The remediation price tags are estimated to cost between $332 and $748 million over a 30 year period. The preferred plan will cost around $585 millioin. Approximately 17.5 million gallons of groundwater per day would be removed and treated under the various plans. Full cleanup is expected to take 110 years. (May 2019)
After reviewing public comments, the NYS DEC adopted the revised plan in late December 2019 without any significant changes. Both the Navy and Northrup Grumman objected to the plan. The path is now open for New York State to begin a comprehensive cleanup of the plume.
According to a new report (May 2019) from the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), a comparison of all public water supplies in New York State that tested for unregulated chemicals, Long Island drinking water contained the largest number chemicals. According to the report, What's in My Water?, Long Island had the most drinking water system detections for the unregulated chemicals while New York City came out as the best drinking water. The chemical, 1,4 Dioxane, was the biggest problem for Long Island. Around the rest of the state, the most commonly detected chemicals were: strontium, hexavalent chromium (chromium-6), chlorate, chromium and vanadium. (June 2019)
A 47-acre site in Wainscott, in East Hamption, N.Y. has been added to the NYS Superfund List due to contamination from fire fighting chemicals. The site is part of the larger 570- acre East Hampton Airport property. PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) was detected at 290 parts per trillion, and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) was detected at 160 ppt. In May 2017, the State added the Suffolk County Fire Training Facility in Yapank to the List and in September 2018, the Westhampton Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton was added to the list because of the same chemicals. (Reported by David Schwartz, Newsday, June 7, 2019)
Old Westbury, in response to increased water demand in the upscale community in central Nassau County, has drilled new wells and has now completed a large new water storage tank. The district now has 7 wells and 2 storage tanks. The 1,300 water customers in the Village have one of the highest per capita water demands on Long Island. Reported by Christine Chung, Newsday, March 5, 2018.
In January 2017, the New York State DEC asked all water suppliers on Long Island to develop updated water conservation plans designed to reduce summer 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.
Newsday investigative reporters, Paul Larocco and David M. Schwartz, uncovered the 50+ years of coverups and denials of responsibility by the US Navy and the Grumman Aerospace (today Northup-Grumman Co.) in the operation of their facilities at Bethpage, N.Y. The two-day series (February 19 and 20, 2020) described in 26 pages of detailed reporting, how this disaster was allowed to happen. The reporters, using before now, undisclosed documents, interviews, and public statements from those involved to definitively prove the intentional efforts by state officials and the two responsible parties to delay active responses to the pending disaster that the chemicals dumping into the ground would eventually create. Congratulations to Newsday and these two reporters, David Schwartz and Paul Larocco, for a true public service to uncover decades of deceit, misinformation, and secrecy. Background documents and videos are also posted by Newsday, online.
New York State DWQC met in December 2018 and recommended to the State Health Department drinking water standards (also known as MCLs = maximum contaminant levels) for three contaminants of concerns. For 1,4 Dioxane, it recommended an MCL of 1 part per billion. It also recommended an MCL of 10 parts per trillion for PFOS and PFOA. The PFOS/PFOA MCLs will become the strongest drinking water standards in the nation if they are implemented as recommended. The State Health department also noted that it could also set a collective standard for a group of PFCs along with the individual MCLs recommended by the DWQC. (Reported by David Schwartz, Newsday, Dec. 19, 2018)
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.
Recent reporting (March 2019) illustrates a classic example of sacrificing groundwater protection to profit and greed. Two examples show how state oversight of the natural resources slips through the cracks in environmental laws until the damage has been done.
FISH FARM EXAMPLE: A proposed fish farming business in Yaphank, New York (Town of Brookhaven) has claimed a plan to raise fish such as sturgeon, striped bass and vegetables such as salad greens. However, their main activity so far has been to illegally excavate millions of yards of sand according to the NYS DEC. One of the points of controversy is whether the business mined land outside of their property boundaries. The other is that the business had no sand mining permit from the NYS DEC. The activities by BlueGreen Farms date back to 2010. Recently, the NYS DEC has fined the company $1.3 million for its activities.
SAND LAND: This large sand mining operation in Noyac in Southampton Township has been the focus of extensive public condemnation due to its impact on local groundwater. Suffolk County has reported that the sand mining operation has negatively impacted groundwater for more than 8 years. Elevated levels of manganese and iron in groundwater are related to composting and mulching activities at the mining site. In September 2018, NYS DEC denied an application to renew the Sand Land mining permit which was set to expire in November 2018. This decision was met with widespread applause. Then, at the end of March 2019, the NYS DEC announced it had reached an agreement with Sand Land to allow continued sand mining for another 8 years and to dig an additional 40 feet deeper into the aquifer and groundwater.
In response to this news, the Town of Southampton, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, and community organizations filed a petition (April 2019) in NYS Supreme Court to overturn the DEC decision. In addition, Assemb. Thiele has sponsored legislation that would give local government a role in authorizing sand mining and setting rules for mining. The legislation passed the State Assembly in 2018. It still needs to be passed in the NYS Senate. (Reported by Vera Chinese, Newsday, March 29 and April 19, 2019.)
UPDATE: On Friday, May 31, 2019 a state Supreme Court Judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing Sand Land from taking actions to expand the size of the site, as the permit had allowed, pending a full presentation of the case. (Reported by David Schwartz, Newsday, June 4, 2019)