Our water pollution problem on Long Island is not an isolated one. It is besieged by “forever chemicals.” Known scientifically as per-polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) and 1.4 dioxane, they appear to stick around forever. They are in paint strippers, dyes, deodorants, and plastics. They cause health problems: from damage to the immune system to cancer. Whether or not they can be eliminated has become an essential task for our current systems and providers of water.

Some companies are trying to reduce “forever chemicals” in their products. Cups, bowls, and egg cartons produced by Zume, a manufacturer of food containers and other products, launched in April 2022, no longer possess harmful waste. Other companies are also making similar changes, including some clothing companies that are eliminating chemicals in their garments.

In Nassau County, the 1.4 dioxane problem found in potable water is finally being addressed. Places like Carle Place, Mineola, Plainview, Bethpage, and Hicksville have Island water providers cleaning up the water using the New York State $250 million grant to purchase equipment that eliminates this chemical. But this advanced oxidation process can cost up to $60 million for even one area. In Hicksville, it’ll take three years for one system to be installed. In each town, these will be slow, ongoing costly infrastructure projects. Water bills will rise. It is a cheap price to pay for eliminating negative health impacts on humans and other creatures, but a good way to save our wetlands, bays, coastal areas, and oceans from pollution!

In Suffolk County, the lack of sewers and abundance of cesspools and septic tanks is finally center-stage. Money from the state, $1.2 million, will help to replace faulty septic systems with I/A (Innovative Alternative), low-nitrogen systems. Nitrogen from fertilizers will no longer suffocate ponds and other areas. If new septic tanks are needed, the Suffolk County Department of Health will provide a broad range of help. The Forge River Sewer Project in the Shirley-Mastic area will help eliminate 1,889 cesspools and install a new water treatment plant by 2025.

These infrastructure projects will raise the water bills of Long Islanders. They are needed and should be viewed as a good investment eliminating pollution of our underground aquifers and lovely island surroundings. “Forever chemicals” can be eliminated by companies removing chemicals in their products along with state and federal aid. This offers a healthier future for everyone.

Submitted by Elaine Peters for the Green Sanctuary Committee