LI water districts drink up anti-contamination funds

Flowing funds: A pipeline of support from the Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University is supporting Long Island water districts in their fight against drinking-water contamination.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

From the Role Reversal Department comes Stony Brook University, which is handing out the grants for a change.

More specifically, the Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University is spreading the joy, awarding a total of $753,535 to Long Island water districts knee-deep in the fight against drinking-water contamination.

The state-funded Center for Clean Water Technology was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015 to marshal public and private resources, from New York and beyond, in the development of cost-effective water restoration and protection technologies.

Meeting those mission parameters – and qualifying for a center-distributed, state-managed grant-funding effort – are a multitude of Long Island water districts, four of which were supported in the clean-water hub’s latest funding round.

The Plainview and Greenlawn water districts will share a combined $369,000 award, while the Suffolk County Water Authority will receive $222,205 and the Hicksville Water District will receive $162,330, all aiding the fight against “federally unregulated contaminants in their drinking water,” according to SBU.

Targeting contaminants such as perfluorinated carboxylic acid and 1,4-dioxane, Cuomo has staked $200 million in grant funding to assist statewide communities in water distress. Including the funding announced Tuesday, $15 million has been awarded by the Center for Clean Water Technology to date, supporting emergency treatments, system upgrades and pilot programs.

Christopher Gobler: Diving into new tech.

In Hicksville, funds will go directly into the creation of an “advanced oxidation processing facility,” improving the district’s ability to knock down rising levels of 1,4-dioxane and other “emerging contaminants,” according to Hicksville Water District Superintendent Anthony Iannone.

“The Hicksville Water District is grateful to the Center for Clean Water Technology for helping to support the vital treatment of these emerging contaminants,” Iannone said in a statement. “We are excited to capitalize on this support from Stony Brook to lessen the burden on local taxpayers and support the costs associated with piloting this new technology.”

A similar advanced oxidation process will look to eradicate 1,4-dioxane from a sole-source aquifer servicing customers in the Plainview and Greenlawn water districts – potentially, a blueprint for other Long Island communities facing similar contaminations, according to Plainview Water District Superintendent Stephen Moriarty.

“Thanks to the grant funding … our partnership with the Greenlawn Water District will not only improve our ability to fulfill our mission, but will have a significant impact on charting the future path for the treatment of 1,4-dioxane throughout the region,” Moriarty added.

Two alternate advanced-oxidation technologies – a chemical-free system and a UV lamp that uses chlorine (instead of peroxide) to ravage 1,4-dioxane – will be tested by the Suffolk County Water Authority, both at the authority’s Central Islip proving grounds.

The side-by-side oxidation showdown will offer a “true apples-to-apples comparison with an existing [advanced oxidation process],” according to SCWA Chief Executive Jeffrey Szabo, who said his authority is “excited to begin the test” and to “address 1,4-dioxane contamination as effectively as possible.”

That’s the general idea, noted Center for Clean Water Technology Director Christopher Gobler, who reinforced the center’s duty to the state’s water-drinking residents.

“This initiative advances the center’s mission to develop technologies that protect drinking water quality for New York citizens,” said Gobler, also the endowed chair of coastal ecology and conservation at SBU’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. “We believe these pilot projects are an important step toward ensuring this likely carcinogen is effectively removed from public water supplies.”