Legislative Memo

Darren Suarez
Director of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7511


S.7804 (LaValle) / A.9788-A  (Sweeney) 



Long Island Water Quality Control Act 



June 17, 2014


This legislation would establish the “Long Island Water Quality Control Act”. Although the goals of the legislation are laudable due to the breadth, scope, duplication, uncertainty and potential costs of the legislation the Business Council opposes the legislation. The legislation as drafted would put Long Island agriculture in jeopardy, and could cost Suffolk county homeowners collectively $ 3.6 Billion.

The legislation contains many numerous technical errors, and missing definitions causing the bill to become unworkable.

There is no denying that Long Island's bays and harbors are some of New York's most crucial habitats, and significant effort has been and should be taken to protect, preserve and restore these habitats and drinking water source. But much of the intent of this legislation is being addressed through Federal, State, County, and Local government action.

As one example the Department of Environmental Conservation recently released a 126-page Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy. The Strategy, which will be effective July 11th, was developed in collaboration with numerous stakeholders. The strategy strengthens DEC's existing pest management regulatory program while recognizing the need for pest management. Pursuant to the strategy, DEC will develop a Technical Review and Advisory Committee (TRAC) comprised of state and local government agencies, local organizations and academic representatives. The TRAC will advise DEC on pesticide use patterns, aquifer vulnerability and human health risks, and will also recommend alternatives and pollution prevention measures to address pesticide-associated contaminants in groundwater. Many people believe that the strategy can be effective at protecting groundwater.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, was recently quoted as saying she believes the strategy could help protect groundwater “as long as those on the committee work aggressively and honestly with each other.”  The TRAC should be allowed to meet before legislation is advanced that would undermine the process.

New York has demonstrated a willingness to take affirmative steps based on the specific pesticide product characteristics. The DEC has placed strict prohibitions on the application of 361 pesticides in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Another 145 are registered for use on Long Island only when used in accordance with specific label conditions.

In conclusion, the legislation represents a significant potential cost to homeowners. Suffolk County has identified 360,000 unsewered homes. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has estimated that denitrification systems cost approx. $30,000. Given the lack of clarity contained in the legislation every homeowner in Suffolk could potentially be required to install such a system. If only a third of households were required to install a denitrification system it would cost $3.6 Billion. Such a mandate would have a devastating effect on local property values, and the local economy.

The Business Council strongly urges that this legislation not be advanced.