Words such as “crisis” and “urgent” often lose their currency when they’re spent by public officials as freely as sailors on sprees.
But credit Supervisor Jim Dougherty for pursuing an end to a fully realized crisis confronting the Island’s future in the form of polluted ground water and the waters that surround us.
One major cause of this, yes, urgent situation, is barely efficient septic systems that spew nitrogen and other toxic chemicals into the water we drink and the bays and creeks we live with. In many parts of the Peconic estuary, according to a report from the Nature Conservancy, septic systems were found to be the single largest source of nitrogen pollution.
The supervisor, as chairman of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association has called on Governor Andrew Cuomo and leaders of the state Legislature to institute a $100 million program to give individual homeowners rebates to upgrade failing septic systems.
If the money is granted, it’s estimated that 25 percent of all the nearly worthless septic systems on the East End could be upgraded to perform as protection against a poisonous future.
This is progressive thinking as well as a practical, workable plan to reduce pollution.
Town Engineer John Cronin, who has been a strong and consistent voice waking up residents and elected officials to the crisis presented by ineffective systems, also has some hopeful news. A Suffolk County grant to install a state-of-the-art septic system for the American Legion Hall seems to be on track, with Mr. Cronin completing the application under a tough deadline. He’s been asked by county officials to meet with them this week to make the case in person for the new system.
Sylvester Manor has also made a stand against pollution by submitting an application for funds from the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning division of Water Quality Improvement. The Manor is asking for financial aid for a pilot wastewater treatment system to be installed adjacent to Gardiners Creek and Dering Harbor.
Good luck to Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Cronin and the leadership of the Manor as they fight to protect the Island’s most precious natural resource.