On July 6, the Department of Environmental Conservation held a virtual meeting to receive input from the public before they conduct a three-year study on the potential for impacts to groundwater quality resulting from sand mining on Long Island.
In 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the DEC to conduct the study, which will include water sampling and testing at monitoring wells installed at LI mine sites.
Currently, there are 23 active mines on Long Island, all in Suffolk County. Twenty-one of the mines are commercial and two are municipal. There are seven mines in Southampton, five in Riverhead, four in Brookhaven, three in East Hampton, two in Smithtown, one in Huntington and one in Shelter Island. All of them mine solely for sand and gravel. Only six sites are permitted to excavate into the water table.
For over a century, sand and gravel from Long Island has been used to provide raw materials to develop and maintain infrastructure for the local area and New York City, according to the DEC.
In 1975, the Mined Land Reclamation Law (MLRI) was passed to provide more consistency in mining regulation.
The “DEC through implementation of the MLRI, ensures that the essential minerals are developed in an environmentally responsible manner while also ensuring that affected lands are reclaimed and returned to productive use at the site of mineral extraction.”
At the meeting, a few residents spoke, including one who lives on Pine Lake in Middle Island near Roanoke Sand and Gravel. He noted that in the eight years he’s lived on the lake, the local waters have been receding.
The study will launch in the fall and will include a first round of baseline sampling. Participation in the study is voluntary and surface-water monitoring will not be part of the study. The DEC is currently developing a list of contaminants potentially associated with mining activities that the mines will test for. At the end of the study, the DEC will prepare a detailed report that will include its recommendations.
Anyone who would like to submit a question can do so at GWstudyLImines@dec.ny.gov.