The following comments were submitted on September 4th, 2019 to the Suffolk County Department of Health. Interested in supporting The Foggiest Idea’s award-winning reporting and analysis? Click here.

To elected officials and policymakers within the Suffolk County Department of Health –


My name is Richard Murdocco, and I am writing to submit public comments in regards to Suffolk County’s Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan.

As part of the research process for its award-winning body of work on Long Island’s environmental and development issues, The Foggiest Idea regularly reviews the policy actions taken by local, state, and federal governments that impact communities throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

The plan under consideration lays out a series of policy actions that ambitiously seek to curb nitrogen loadings throughout the region. While the pursuit of such a goal is worthwhile, caution must be taken in regards to the mechanisms of this plan’s implementation – in short, the county must limit fiscal impact to residents while at the same time working to guarantee that local land use protections remain effective in curbing additional harm to ground and surface waters.

As such, it is critically important that any strategy to limit nitrogen contamination is based upon the best available methodologies and data, as well as is effective in limiting out-of-pocket costs for already cost-burdened home/property owners in need of a new wastewater system. Prevention of mandated septic upgrades at their sole expense through the leveraging of any available state and federal monies would be a good start.

In addition, it is encouraging to see the document advocate for the continued purchasing open space for aquifer recharge, but the county must work with local municipalities to ensure the effectiveness of their zoning towards the prevention of harmful over-development on previously undisturbed parcels of land. Moving forward, future growth should be adaptive of obsolete land usage, and integrate clustered designs that maintain open spaces where feasible.

Lack of sufficient land use controls result in an over-reliance on sewering to support growth, which both lowers local water tables and allows for higher developmental densities beyond the capacity of local infrastructure networks.

There is no silver-bullet approach to Long Island’s water woes – but the Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan under consideration is a good starting point. Now, it’s up the county to ensure that implementation of this document is both fiscally manageable for Suffolk County residents and environmentally sustainable.

Richard Murdocco

The Foggiest Idea