News Feature | February 11, 2019

Long Island Water District To Build $19.5 Million Treatment Plant To Fight Toxic Plume

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

Thanks to a manufacturing plant formerly operated in part by the U.S. Navy, a toxic plume is now approaching drinking water wells in Long Island. Fighting the problem will require a new water treatment facility costing millions of dollars.

The local water authority, the Bethpage Water District, has decided to build a $19.5 million water treatment plant to combat what news outlets call the “Bethpage toxic plume,” a collection of volatile organic compounds that is flowing toward drinking water sources. The new facility is expected to become fully functional by next year.

“The plume is coming from a manufacturing facility once operated by Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy,” according to News 12. “Contaminated water was first discovered in the 1940s.”

The plume is reported to move about 1 foot per day and to be 4 miles long and 2 miles wide. The new water treatment facility is expected to remove the volatile chemicals in the groundwater before they are able to reach and contaminate public wells.

The plume has been on New York state’s radar for some time. Governor Andrew Cuomo made a promise in 2017 to contain the plume and recently vowed to release an expanded groundwater and engineering study that lays out specific options for treatment.

“The water is poisoned, it’s been a bureaucratic finger-pointing between the federal government and the Navy,” Cuomo said, per a subsequent report from News 12. “I’m tired of waiting, we are going to clean up those hot spots. We’re gonna get it done.”

The toxic plume is one of several water quality issues that the state currently faces. The governor has proposed a $2.5 billion spending effort to fix these issues, along with other sewer and pollution problems.

“Water officials on the front lines of the growing concern credit Cuomo for focusing on the problems after decades in which, they said, the state paid too little attention and appropriated too little funding,” Newsday reported. “In 2018, for example, Cuomo led the effort to create the first $2.5 billion program under the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, which is already devoted to projects ranging from contaminated wells on Long Island to century-old pipes in some upstate cities.”

To read more about how utilities pay to address drinking water quality issues visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.