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New York groups sue state over discharge permits

Two New York coastal organizations are taking legal action to stop sewage pollution in Suffolk and Nassau County waterways.

Peconic Baykeeper and Long Island Soundkeeper are challenging the New York state parks department in court, alleging that it failed to have federal Clean Water Act sewage discharge permits and did not comply with the law.

“If you’re a Suffolk County resident and you live near a body of water, chances are it’s polluted,” Peconic Baykeeper attorney Kevin McAllister said in a statement.

“We are announcing the commencement of legal action pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act against the New York state parks department for its failure to have Clean Water Act sewage discharge permits for state park-operated facilities located at Robert Moses, Heckscher, Sunken Meadow, Wildwood [and] Belmont Lake state beaches and parks,” the statement read. “Astonishingly, three of those parks operate outdated cesspools, which were required by federal law to have been closed and upgraded by 2005.”

A major source of pollution on Long Island's surface waters comes from on-site wastewater disposal systems, especially in Suffolk County, the groups say. Peconic Baykeeper said it was the first and, for many years, the only voice identifying the link between nitrogen (and other pollutants) from these systems and the occurrences of harmful algal blooms and the degraded state of the bays. The group said there are brown tide blooms in Great South, Moriches, Quantuck and Shinnecock bays.

“DEC has failed to comply with the legal mandates of the Clean Water Act and state law, both of which require strict permit limits on the discharge of nitrogen in order to protect water quality,” Baykeeper’s attorney, Reed Super, said in a statement.

The group is making a formal announcement at 10 a.m. Thursday at Kingston’s Clam Bar in West Sayville, N.Y.

Click here for the full release.

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