Will the proposed STP stop medical waste from entering the Montauk Aquifer?

During the Suffolk County Parks Trustee meeting on February 23, 2023, a conversation between H2M’s Project Manager Nick Bono, and Suffolk County Legislator Steve Flotteron occurred. This discussion at first focused on the Downtown Montauk Wastewater Recharge and the loss of the water out into the Atlantic Ocean.H2M’s Project Manager suggested that by placing the Sewage Treatment Plant in Hither Woods, the Wastewater can instead be used to help recharge the Hither Woods Aquifer which led to a question by Suffolk County Legislator Steve Flotteron and the answer by H2M’s Project Manager.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Flotteron asked during this discussion:

“...Ah..you are always pointing out the Nitrogen...ah, but my understanding…is the drinking water, it's more about other things that people are flushing down the toilet, such as Meds or anything else, what are you going to do to solve that problem?”

H2M Program Manager Nick Bono replied to Legislator Steve Flotteren:

“The treatment plant…the treatment plant technology on the wastewater side...ah, there will be some inherent reduction on some things, but they're not designed to remove pharmaceuticals, ah no,….it’s taking care of the wastewater constituents not regulated in the area, nitrogen has a groundwater limit. Drinking water standards that we have to meet…there are other constituents and policies and things of that nature. But regulation wise the pharmaceuticals are not regulated, the emerging contaminants on the wastewater side are not regulated. We also need to think about areas out here (pointing to the map where septics are located) everyone's on septic.......we are not treating it anyway.”

In other words…when arguing about the benefits of refilling the Hither Woods aquifer with wastewater from downtown Montauk, H2M Program Manager acknowledges that all the contaminants that people flush down the toilet (chemicals, pharmaceuticals, drugs, estrogen, and all other things) are NOT contained by the wastewater treatment plant and could make their way into the Hither Woods aquifer.

Typically, this is not an issue since Wastewater Sewage Treatment Facilities are never built on top of an aquifer. The Hither Woods aquifer is part of the Suffolk County Special Groundwater Protection Area and provides Montauk with its sole source of drinking water. Much of the water consumed on Montauk from public water supplies (SCWA) comes from the “mainland” part of the South Fork and is piped to Montauk across Napeague. This transport of water to Montauk should be minimized because it lowers the water table throughout the rest of the South Fork. 

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