Last week, the New York State Senate killed a water quality improvement bill, by refusing even to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote before adjourning the legislative session June 20. The State Assembly had approved the same measure by a margin of 112/24 two days earlier.
The proposed legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Kenneth P. Lavalle and in the Assembly by Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney. Titled the “Long Island Water Quality Control Act,” the bill would have reduced the discharge of contaminants into groundwater and established a regulatory framework to improve the quality of drinking and surface waters on Long Island. The bill was in response to concerns from scientists and environmentalists about declining water quality across the Island.
After nine months of input from citizens, businesses and government officials, and a five-hundred to one ratio of supporting versus opposing comments to Albany lawmakers, the State Senate left the bill to die in committee.
Executive Director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, Richard Amper said, “The Senate chose to protect the polluters, particularly the developers and the agriculture industry, instead of the quality of water affecting nearly three-million Long Islanders – it’s outrageous.” The measure had been opposed by the Long Island Farm Bureau and the Long Island Builders Institute. The developers promised last January, that they would oppose water quality improvement unless the bill provided for the construction of 50,000 new houses. “They basically told Long Islanders that they would oppose improved water quality unless the bill allowed them to continue polluting our water,” Amper declared.
Environmentalists vowed to pursue the legislation. Amper concluded, “If there’s to be a war over water, I think it’s a war that Long Islanders will win.”