Long Island earned a distinction in 2016 it didn’t want: Some of the region’s drinking water was found to have among the highest levels nationwide of 1,4-dioxane, a chemical the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls a “likely human carcinogen” but doesn’t regulate.
As a result, New York’s state Department of Health began its own “Operation Warp Speed” to deal with high 1,4-dioxane levels, and approved a treatment system that effectively removes the chemical from the water system, said Paul Granger, the superintendent of the Hicksville Water District, one of about 50 water suppliers on Long Island. Earlier this year, the state—the first in the country to regulate the chemical—set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) in drinking water for the solvent, which can appear in everything from industrial degreasers to laundry detergent.
But one advocacy group is suing to have the area use New York City’s “pristine water supply,” claiming the new treatment system, which costs hundreds of millions of dollars to install and run, isn’t the most efficient way to detox Long Island’s water.
Long Island, unlike New York City, gets its drinking water from a system of hundreds of underground wells. Much of the island also is unsewered, with many residents using septic tanks. Years of heavy industry, along with residential waste, has left many concerned about chemicals that have potentially seeped into its aquifer.
The Wall Street Journal, 29 December 2020