Baykeeper Sues State Over Septic Pollution

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The Peconic Baykeeper has filed two lawsuits against the state demanding substantial improvements in controls on septic discharges that have been blamed by scientists for widespread algae blooms and water quality degradation across Long Island.

One suit seeks to force the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to enforce existing water quality regulations on thousands of private septic systems and public sewage treatment plants in Suffolk County that do not meet state water quality standards for discharge of effluent wastewater. The litigation identifies more than 1,300 septic systems in the county, many on the East End, that Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister says are deficient.

The second suit, which the Baykeeper intends to file within the next two months, will target the state Parks Commission for operating a number of large public facilities, state beaches in particular, that use outdated septic systems that, he said this week, are flushing enormous amounts of wastewater into groundwater tables and surface waters.

The suit also targets the Stony Brook Southampton campus because its septic system is also outdated and, the suit claims, is ineffective at filtering its wastewater.

“We’re talking about thousands of flushes a day at some of these sites,” Mr. McAllister said. “These large-scale septic systems are degrading water quality in surface waters all over Long Island.”

Mr. McAllister, the president of Peconic Baykeeper, said scientific studies have drawn conclusive connections between septic system discharges and water quality problems in local bays. Mr. McAllister said discussion of the problem and possible solutions have been too long and led to too little action on the part of regulators at the state and county levels.

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