News Feature | February 21, 2019

Long Island Faces $840 Million Cost To Fight 1,4-Dioxane In Drinking Water

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

Long Island has faced 1,4-dioxane contamination in its drinking water for months. Now, there is a whopping price tag attached to dealing with the problem.

“Long Island water providers say an estimated $840 million price tag to add treatment systems to 185 drinking water wells contaminated by 1,4-dioxane — a chemical the state is expected to regulate this year — could lead to a spike in water rates,” Newsday reported.

That cost estimate was determined by the Long Island Water Conference and is significantly higher than a roughly $300 million cost estimated by New York’s Department of Health late last year. According to the health department, there are 89 wells in New York (82 of which are on Long Island) where 1,4-dioxane levels are higher than recommended.

The chemical stems from industrial solvents, detergents, cosmetics, shampoos, and other man-made items. It is likely a carcinogen that leads to liver and kidney damage and it is not removable through conventional treatment methods that exist on Long Island, hence the need for expensive upgrades.

“Removing 1,4-dioxane involves mixing contaminated water with a chemical like hydrogen peroxide,” per Newsday. “The water is then blasted with UV rays from dozens of light bulbs inside a system. The water then filters through a pair of tanks filled with 20,000 pounds of granular activated carbon.”

Though the potential $840 million investment is apparently set for needed treatment technology improvements on Long Island, local residents are not excited about the idea that their water rates could increase to pay for it.

“Water rates, without additional state help, could double in some water districts where multiple wells are contaminated,” CBS Local reported. “If the state, the federal government, and manufacturers don’t help with the cost, experts predict taxes will go up and water rates will soar.”

Based on that report, it appeared that most of the Long Island residents interviewed would expect 1,4-dioxane manufacturers to foot the bill for removing the contaminant from their drinking water. Either way, it should be some time before any significant treatment initiatives are taken.

“Water providers add they need three to five years to plan, design, and construct the treatment systems,” per CBS Local.

To read more about how water utilities address contaminants, visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.