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Cuomo to DEC: Do More to Protect Long Island's Groundwater from Compost Facilities

2018 03 20 Land Clearing GW Reg Blog Image.jpg

In many parts of the country, access to clean, drinkable water has become a privilege instead of a right. That's why protecting existing sources of potable water is a top priority for all.

In an effort to address the sole source of subsurface drinking water on Long Island, last November, Governor Cuomo signed a new law requiring the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create new rules that would prevent composting facilities and land clearing debris activities (ie. utility line maintenance) in Nassau and Suffolk Counties from impairing water quality.

Why is this important?

Unlike New York City and lower Hudson Valley residents, Long Islanders live atop of their drinking water supply. Deep below the surface are three main aquifers that Long Island residents rely on for drinking water. The DEC estimates that Nassau and Suffolk counties use more than 375 million gallons of groundwater per day; this water supply is in heavy demand and needs to be protected. Although we have existing regulations intended to protect Long Island's underground aquifers, these new rules will require composting and land clearing debris facilities to provide quarterly water quality testing and would establish zoning setbacks for those facilities from drinking water supply wells.

The new DEC regulations would also require land clearing debris and composting facilities to use impermeable liners in primary recharge zones for Long Island's sole source aquifer, which would prevent contaminated leached water migrating down to the aquifer. When water is pumped out of the Long Island aquifers, the only way the water is replaced is through rain storms. Recharge zones are buffered areas of land where water can seep into the ground and replenish the aquifer's water supply.

Call the attorneys of Periconi, LLC at (212) 213-5500 if you own or operate a composting facility on Long Island and want more information about Governor Cuomo's mandate to the DEC, or if you want to learn more about the role environmental attorneys play in protecting drinking water.

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