21 Long Island Water Districts Granted 2-Year Deferrals In Clearing Wells Of Contaminants, Citing COVID-Related Delays

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some Long Island water districts claim they were unable to meet new drinking water standards in part due to COVID.

Shipments of crucial carbon filtration systems were delayed, but environmental groups argue there are no excuses when it comes to public health.

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New York State adopted tough new drinking water standards one year ago.

An investigation into compliance launched this year by Citizens Campaign for the Environment revealed that 21, almost half, Long Island water districts were granted two-year deferrals in clearing wells of contaminants.

The nonprofit calls the deferrals “a danger to the public health.”

“They’re forever chemicals because they stay in your body and they don’t break down,” said Adrienne Esposito, with Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Those chemicals include: 1,4-Dioxane, a likely carcinogen found in some household cleaning products; PFOS, linked to firefighting foams, and PFOA, used in nonstick and stain resistant products.

“Most of our wells are impacted by the contamination. We had no choice but to take the aggressive action,” said Paul Granger, superintendent of the Hicksville Water District.

Hicksville recently won approval for a $50 million bond and the fix is underway with specialized oxidation carbon filtration systems.

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Even with state and federal grants, water providers say rate increases will be necessary to help pay for treating the systems

The highest concentrations of 1,4-Dioxane were found in Western Nassau, while the highest concentrations of PFOA and PFOS were found in Garden City and Hampton Bays, respectively.

The state required notification.

“Many members of the public were startled to get such a letter from their water districts,” Esposito said.

The state Drinking Water Quality Council is reassuring the public the water is safe.

That is calming news for the Makkar family.

“We are not nervous. Now we use the tap water,” Hicksville homeowner Lakshme Makkar told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.

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Water districts are suing chemical manufacturers and polluters for payback, pledging to meet the deferred safety deadline within two more years.

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