Nassau County Water Contamination Misses Campus

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By Travis Fortounas & Shannon Miller

Staff Writer, News & Managing Editor

Over the past few months, Long Island was hit with news that might be a little hard to swallow, literally. Nassau County was identified as one of the leading counties throughout New York state with the highest level of contamination in its drinking water.

Long Island receives its water from an underground local water supply, while New York City and the rest of the state receive their water from upstate New York, where the water is protected and preserved by land surrounding the reservoirs.

“Long Island has some of the highest detections in the nation of chemicals like 1,4-dioxane, a solvent used to keep machinery greased that is also a byproduct of certain personal-care products. The chemical 1,4-dioxane is a likely carcinogen,” Matthew Chayes wrote in a Newsday article from June 5.

University director of facilities services, Roy Fergus, said the university gets their water supply locally from Jericho Water District in the town of Oyster Bay. Fergus said there were no reports of contaminated water with the campus supply. “By federal, state and local regulations, Jericho Water is required to provide the campus with a safe water supply,” he said.

As per a fall 2019 report issued by Jericho Water District, they’re preparing for the New York State Health Department’s adoption of new, stricter standards for 1,4-dioxane. Of the district’s 25 public water supply wells, four are currently over the maximum contamination level (MCL) with another three that are over half of the MCL.

Jericho Water District requested that the state’s health department adopt a revised protocol, allowing water districts a 4-year phase in period to construct and implement treatment equipment once it has been approved. If the proposal is turned down, the district will be forced to immediately implement mandatory restrictions on non-essential water use.

The newsletter emphasized that too many wells out of service at one time will affect the district’s ability to provide potable water for essential use.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into legislation on Nov. 4 that equips public water suppliers with a needed tool to hold corporate polluters accountable for contaminating drinking water. The Jericho Water District is suing Dow Chemical, a manufacturer of 1,4-dioxane, along with other manufacturers, to hold them accountable for paying for the necessary equipment to remove the dangerous chemical.

When comparing the water quality between New York City and Long Island, it’s been proven that New York City has the cleanest tap water in the state; and Long Island, which is located right next door has the dirtiest, most toxic tap water in all of New York.

Native Long Island resident, Ryan McAnally, who’s been living in New York City for over a year now, said that his landlord has been telling him for over a year now to drink the tap water. “It really is the best tap water and it’s a quick and easy way to save money,” he said.

LIU has campuses within several New York counties, with Brookville and Brooklyn being home to two of them. Logan Kelly, a junior nursing major, resided on Long Island her entire life before moving to Brooklyn for school.

“I haven’t really taken water quality into consideration until now. Once I heard about all the different contaminants in the water of Long Island, I started drinking more bottled water and when I am in my dorm in Brooklyn, I use the tap because it’s just a known thing to drink New York City tap water. It’s clean,” Kelly said.

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