Albany, NY (May 16, 2024) – Today, the New York State Senate passed the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act (S.8473), after previously passing the State Assembly (A.8993). The undersigned organizations thank bill sponsors for their commitment to clean water and urge Governor Hochul to immediately call for the bill and sign it.

The Act authorizes the Suffolk County Legislature to move forward with a ballot referendum, that if approved by local voters, would establish a long-term funding source to expand sewers and replace nitrogen-polluting septic systems with clean water technology.

For too long, Suffolk County residents have faced contaminated drinking water, dead fish and wildlife, and damaged bays and harbors due to outdated wastewater infrastructure. Supported by most residents, the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act would restore clean water by making critical infrastructure improvements not only possible, but affordable to residents and businesses.

“The Nature Conservancy commends state legislators for passing a bill that will enable Suffolk County to restore our bays and harbors, improve public health, and safeguard our way of life. The best future for Long Island depends on this legislation becoming law, said Kevin McDonald, Long Island Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy in New York. “We urge Governor Hochul to immediately sign the Suffolk Quality Restoration Act into law so that Suffolk residents can vote for a clean water future this November.”

“Long Islanders are deeply connected to their local waterways. We love where we live. Whether it is fishing, clamming, boating, swimming, or kayaking, Long Islanders depend on clean, healthy waters. Clean water is not a luxury item, it is a necessity. This legislation is a critical and necessary step to allow the public to vote for investing in clean water. Thank you to our elected leaders for prioritizing clean water,” stated Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“We are thrilled the New York State Legislature passed this measure to help restore clean and healthy water – our most precious resource – to Suffolk County, and we applaud Senator Martinez and Assemblymember Thiele for their leadership on this issue.  Suffolk County residents have suffered from nitrogen-polluted water for far too long and now we must work to ensure this measure is placed on the ballot and approved by voters in the fall,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

“We applaud the New York State Legislature for passing the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act (SCWQRA). It’s a vital step to improve our region’s water quality. We urge Governor Hochul to sign it. The Governor’s signature will bring us one step closer to guaranteeing the availability of clean drinking water and maintaining the viability of our coastlines while creating thousands of union jobs with family-sustaining wages in the process,” said John R. Durso, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and Ryan Stanton, Executive Director of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

“Long Island’s water quality issues developed over the course of decades, and it will take decades to fully resolve them. Establishing a dedicated funding source to expand sewers and replace outdated technology with clean water septics is a critical step towards reversing this troubling trend and I applaud the Assembly, and now the Senate for their decisive action in pushing this initiative forward. Now, it is imperative for the Governor to take swift action to ensure we are able to get this on the ballot in November,” said Marc Herbst, Executive Director of the Long Island Contractors Association.

“Clean water is the most essential component in the barometer for measuring any healthy environment. Now, it seems Long Islanders will finally be provided an opportunity to vote on the well-structured plan for the future that combines conscience and common sense. It is about time we uncomplicate the hurdles of clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and healthy land to call home. Supporting new infrastructure is the backbone of economic growth. Stakeholders and government alike agree that clean water is critical for sustainable development, environmental integrity and addressing poverty and hunger, and is the pre-requisite for a healthy life,” saidMatthew Aracich, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

“Expanding the use of sewers and replacing inefficient cesspools is an essential step towards improving water quality both on the mainland and in the Great South Bay,” said Robyn Silvestri, Executive Director of Save the Great South Bay.

“After more than a decade of water quality research, innovation, planning and forward-looking policy, we have never been closer to giving voters the opportunity to secure the long-term funding we need to restore our waters and preserve our Long Island way of life. We applaud all the stakeholders, officials and elected leaders who have worked together to achieve this success and look forward to the important work that still lies ahead,” said Bob DeLuca, President of Group for the East End.

“New Yorkers overwhelmingly support more protections for clean water. This bill will give Suffolk County residents the chance to make their voices heard and say yes to new investments to address wastewater pollution and create good-paying jobs. We applaud the Senate and Assembly for standing up for public health and a cleaner environment by passing the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act. We urge Governor Hochul to sign this common-sense bill into law as soon as possible” said Rob Hayes, Director of Clean Water with Environmental Advocates NY.

“Residents of Suffolk County have known for a long time about the detrimental impact that nitrogen pollution has on water quality, and they have been waiting a long time to address that challenge in a meaningful way. The passage of the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act in Albany is a bold step toward replacing the county’s 380,000 inadequate septic systems and expanding sewer coverage, which will reduce nitrogen pollution in the county’s groundwater, waterways, and Long Island Sound. Now, we need Governor Hochul to sign this bill as soon as possible so that the Suffolk County Legislature can move quickly to get the measure on the ballot for November. The sooner we can get this passed by the voters of Suffolk County, the sooner we can start leveraging federal funding and bringing to Suffolk County the money needed to do all this critical work,” said David Ansel, Vice President of Water Protection, Save the Sound.

“Seatuck is delighted that the NYS Legislature has passed this critically important measure and grateful to Assemblyman Thiele and Senator Martinez for their leadership on this issue. We urge the Suffolk County Legislature to follow suit and give residents the opportunity to ensure their future quality of life by protecting the county’s coastal waters and drinking water aquifers,” noted Enrico Nardone, Seatuck’s Executive Director.  “We are especially pleased water reuse projects are eligible for funding in the initiative as it is a highly effective tool for both safeguarding water quality and ensuring sufficient levels of water remain in our aquifers for residents,” he added.

“Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt urges Governor Hochul to sign the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act and give Suffolk voters the opportunity to say a resounding Yes! to a clean water future,” said Dai Dayton, President, Friends of the Long Pont Greenbelt.

“The Suffolk Water Quality Restoration Act has the support of numerous local chambers, civic organizations and municipalities who will be instrumental in building public support for a referendum in the fall.   Kudos to the NYS legislature for listening to these important local leaders who support the advancement of wastewater treatment projects and the quality of our drinking water,” said Eric Alexander, Director Vision LI, Founder LI Main Street Alliance.

Join Our Mailing List

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!