Cuomo Announces Groundwater Study Funding

Feb 19, 2016

A slide from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's presentation at Stony Brook University on New York State's efforts to protect drinking water sources and clean up areas where the water quality has been affected around the state.
Credit governorandrewcuomo/Flickr

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a $6 million study of Long Island’s groundwater. Cuomo made the announcement on Thursday at Stony Brook University.

Cuomo said the state needs more information on what’s in residents' drinking water.

"We have chemicals in water that no one ever tested for," he said. "And Information is power, and if we do this right we could literally save lives. I believe that...You know, this is every time your child drinks a glass of water, right? That is what this is about."

Cuomo said that on Thursday, the state began testing water in and around the former Northrop Grumman plant in Bethpage.

The state is testing for contamination from a toxic plume that’s been spreading slowly underground for 60 years. It was formed by a lubricant, trichloroethylene (TCE), used by the defense contractor when it was building fighter jets for the U.S. Navy. TCE is a known carcinogen.

"We are now suffering from literally the stain of the manufacturing era," Cuomo said. "And the companies can close up and move away, but that doesn’t mean that all the residue they left and put into the ground goes away."

Cuomo said groundwater testing on Long Island and around the state will be overseen by a new task force led by the state’s health and environmental commissioners.

Cuomo also announced that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation plans to start regulating Suffolk County’s mulch and composting sites.

A recent study done by Suffolk County found that eight composting sites are leeching dangerously high levels of metallic contaminants into the soil.

Assemblyman Steven Englebright of Setauket spoke about the issue Thursday alongside Cuomo.

"There is no more serious issue on Long Island then the chemistry of our water," he said. "Its potability — our ability to reliably get up in the morning and make breakfast, make formula for our children and know that what we are doing is healthful."

Plans to start regulating the composting sites would require them to have water runoff management plans and would restrict how compost is stored.