Press Release: Save the Sound Dismayed by Suffolk County Legislature’s Inaction on Generational Opportunity

A 10-7 party line vote during Tuesday’s meeting of the Suffolk County legislature didn’t kill the Water Quality Restoration Act, but the decision to recess rather than resolve the proposal guarantees this essential piece of legislation will not be added to the November ballot. The legislature is not scheduled to meet again until September, well after the August 4 deadline to include a referendum on the ballot for Election Day 2023.

Forty-one people representing a variety of stakeholders – Suffolk County residents, the business community, labor organizations, scientists, environmental groups among them – registered to testify in favor of IR 1573 during the public meeting, which lasted more than four hours. The proposal would have established a 0.125% increase in county sales tax to be used to fund expansion of sewer systems and replacement of the 380,000 inadequate septic systems currently in use by county residences and businesses.

David Ansel, Vice President of Water Protection, Save the Sound: “Save the Sound is disappointed by this failure to act not only because it denies Suffolk County voters a voice in their clean water future. It also ensures that the nitrogen pollution degrading water quality in Long Island Sound and other waterways across the county will continue, and that the opportunity to apply for unprecedented levels of funding from federal and state grants will be delayed indefinitely.

“The opportunity cost resulting from the Legislature’s inaction is enormous – there is an environmental and public health cost and an economic cost. The legislators are elected by their constituents to act in the best interest of their communities. Failing to enable the Water Quality Restoration Act to move forward ignores this one-in-a-lifetime chance to secure funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to invest in Suffolk County’s clean water infrastructure. And it disregards the reality that climate change and the heavy rain events occurring with greater frequency and severity will continue to exacerbate the challenges to water quality presented by faulty and failing wastewater systems.”

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