The Environmental Protection Agency's claim that was found in a Northport storm drain is dead wrong, members said at a meeting on Tuesday.
According to Trustee Damon McMullen, who accompanied the EPA on their tour through the Village's stormwater management system in June, the EPA made its discovery where it was mean to be--underneath a sewer manhole.
The EPA has acknowledged this error, said Trustee Tom Kehoe, and the Village is working with them to make it public knowledge.
The claim was just one highlight of the 's July report wherein the Village was cited for having an "inadequate storm water management system" and violating numerous statutes under the Clean Water Act.
Tuesday's Village Board of Trustees meeting was the first time that the Village openly discussed the report's findings with the public and the public met them well-prepared. Things became heated as questions and accusations flew, with more than a few voices raised.
Among the loudest was Huntington resident Brian Whitehead, co-founder of the Save our Harbors Facebook group. Report in hand, Whitehead demanded to know if the Village would meet the deadlines set out in the EPA report or leave the taxpayers to shoulder a max $37,500 per day penalty.
“As of this point within a week or two, yes, I would say it’s definitely on target,” Village Administrator Gene Guido responded.
According to the EPA report, the Village has until the end of this month to develop, implement, and enforce a stormwater management plan. By Nov. 30 the Village must enforce a program to detect and address non-stormwater discharges, develop written procedures for identifying and locating illicit discharges, and develop written procedures for eliminating such discharges, and by Jan. 2012, it must perform a self-assessment of municipal operations.
Trustee Tom Kehoe pointed out the irony of the Village's situation, saying that Northport was ahead of the curve in Suffolk County when it installed a sewer system in the 1930s, and is now being blamed for the harbor's ills when cesspools and septic systems are more likely, but less quantifiable, culprits.
"The EPA and DEC edict that came down many years ago was part of the Long Island Sound Study which was a direct result of the lobster die-off and the hypoxia in the sound. But the Clean Water Act, which is what gave them their marching orders, never dealt with non-source point pollution, which is your guys on your side with your cesspools and septic tanks," Kehoe said in response to Whitehead's questioning.
"We think that there is enough research out there that will prove that, even if we remediate our little wastewater management plant, the preponderance of nitrogen coming into the harbor is going to be from other places."
Upgrades to the existing to come into compliance with the Long Island Sound Study benchmarks for nitrogen reduction will cost the Village between $7 and $9 million and should begin around June 2012.