The Suffolk County Water Authority is hoping to bring some attention to two taxpayer and water-quality protection bills in front of the state Legislature this session, which wraps in June.
S956 would ensure that polluters, not taxpayers, pay the cost of treating groundwater contaminants. Under the bill, a polluter found liable to pay for the cost of treatment of pollutants entering groundwater would no longer be able to offset damages with state grants awarded to water providers. Under the bill, funds received by water suppliers that exceed the cost of treatment must be returned to state coffers.
S8763 pertains to the statute of limitations for lawsuits related to emerging contaminants. The Legislature passed a law in 2019 on this, but subsequent court decisions held that the law must be unequivocal about its intent to review past actions. This new bill would make the intent unequivocal.
According to SCWA director of external affairs Daniel Dubois, the two bills would be a “one-two punch” to protect taxpayers as well as the groundwater. There is a lot of money at stake, he explained, noting that issue is a multi-billion-dollar problem of treating water.
Currently, the bills are in the Assembly and Senate and still have to get through the committee before making it to the floor. The SCWA suggests local residents interested in helping see these bills pass call their local officials to push to make it happen.