New York County Continues to Study Bacteria Found on Long Island Beach

After several years of investigations into the cause of high bacteria levels at a Long Island (New York) beach, the Nassau County Legislature is considering a treatment system for its stormwater drainage.

The latest investigation ended after the state looked at eight residential onsite systems as possible causes of the pollution. But after studying the systems for several months, the state concluded they are not sending wastewater into a stream that flows into the Long Island Sound at Glen Cove.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has not ruled out onsite systems leaking wastewater into the groundwater, reports Newsday.

In the spring, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collected samples from stormwater and groundwater discharge pipes. A DNA analysis will tell investigators whether the coliform bacteria found at the beach is from humans or animals.

Meanwhile, the county will spend $200,000 to study the feasibility of installing a treatment system for stormwater.

“We’re going to evaluate all kinds of remedies because obviously the (Department of Environmental Conservation) study didn’t really provide the smoking gun that we were looking for as far as the source of the contamination,” Brian Schneider, deputy county executive for parks and public works, tells Newsday. “We’re shifting focus more toward the treatment at the endpoint of the drainage system, before it hits the beach.”

Nassau County is on the western end of Long Island and borders New York City. To its east is Suffolk County, which last year passed a number of laws to attack nitrogen pollution in its nearshore waters.

Approximately 360,000 homes in Suffolk County rely on cesspools for wastewater disposal. That is about 75 percent of all homes in the county. In August 2017, the town of East Hampton became the first community in the state to require low-nitrogen wastewater systems for all new construction and for buildings that undergo substantial renovation. Several other communities did the same.

In December 2017, the county executive signed a law banning cesspools in all uses. Cesspools were banned for new construction in 1973, but they were still allowed to replace an older cesspool. In May 2017, the county Legislature approved a grant program to help people pay for the cost of converting their onsite systems to low-nitrogen systems.


The health department for Montcalm County, in the central part of the state, is proposing an update to the local sanitary code.

The department tested 20 sites along two rivers and found all were positive for E. coli in numbers that exceeded standards for safe swimming. To rewrite the ordinance, the department proposes requiring discharge permits for all properties not now connected to an onsite system and requiring inspection of all systems at least every 10 years, reports the Daily News of Greenville.

New construction projects would receive a free discharge permit that’s good for 10 years, and then the permit could be renewed for another 10 years with an inspection. A health department officer says the county has about 40,000 septic systems. The health department also covers neighboring Gratiot and Clinton counties.


A septic service driver is facing charges for allegedly dumping 10,000 gallons of cooking oil in a vacant lot in Davenport. Peter Rodriguez, 50, was charged with two counts of commercial dumping, reports the Orlando Sentinel. He was employed by Brownie’s Septic & Plumbing. A sheriff’s spokeswoman says company representatives were unsure why Rodriguez allegedly dumped the oil because the company refines waste oil and sells it.


A septic service driver missed a turn, broke through a fence, and landed in a swimming pool, losing the load of septage he was hauling. The incident occurred in Millersville, 75 miles west of Philadelphia. At the time, the driver was trying to follow a detour. Local news reports quote Conestoga Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Larry Frankford as saying no one was injured. “You can just use your imagination,” he says, about the smell from the combination of diesel fuel, oil and septage.


More than 30 people attended a government meeting to object to the possible siting of a portable sanitation and wastewater processing business about a half mile from a residential neighborhood. Sam Florence, business owner, plans to dewater septage and dispose of the liquid in the city of Madison’s sewer system. Citizens say the facility would produce odors, attract vermin, increase truck traffic and could pose a risk to Morgan County’s water supply. Florence says his business would have no effect on county water. The Planning Commission tabled the plan until members could do more research.


A nonprofit environmental group is pushing for ordinances to protect groundwater in Bannock County in the southeastern part of the state, including the city of Pocatello. Elevated nitrate levels have appeared in some private and municipal wells. Members of the Portneuf Resource Council, part of a larger regional nonprofit environmental organization, want rules asking for evidence that onsite systems used in new construction would not make the nitrate problem worse.

While water from the county’s aquifer now meets standards, Mike Larkin, chairman of the resource council, says new ordinances would protect the water. Most cities and towns have some kind of groundwater ordinance, but Pocatello doesn’t, he says, according to the Idaho State Journal. Sue Skinner, an advisor to the resource council, says suppliers are able to blend water from different sources to remain within legal limits, but nitrate levels are slowly increasing.


A pumping business labeled as a potential scam by a sheriff’s department Facebook post has been damaged by the hints of illegality, say family members of the business owner.

It began with a post in May by the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office. The post says the sheriff’s office had received several complaints about Septic Tanks Pumped & Serviced, the company’s wastewater disposal methods were illegal, and the state attorney general’s office had previously ordered the company to cease operations because of prohibited business practices. The post had a photo of the company truck and asked people who saw it to call the sheriff’s department, and there was a photo of Kelly Steele, supposedly the operator of the company.

The Great Bend Tribune found the attorney general’s office had not issued any letter about the company. Steele says he worked in the business only a few days a week, but his 88-year-old grandfather owned it. “Basically, none of the information they gave was correct at all,” Steele tells the newspaper.

Pawnee County Sheriff Scott King tells the newspaper the Facebook post would come down. He says it was not a news release but the result of two complaints from people concerned about a person going from house to house. The department wanted to warn citizens of a possible scam, he says. Both King and his undersheriff say no part of the post needed correcting.

“It wasn’t clarified as well as it should have been, and I’ll admit that,” King says.


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