Longtime environmental advocate Kevin McAllister is prepared to address the Southold Town board Tuesday about proposed legislation that would impose more stringent sewer standards locally.
According to McAllister — the former Peconic Baykeeper who has unveiled a new not-for-profit group, “Defend H2O”, aimed at protecting and restoring water quality across Long Island — he’s shopping the legislation to all the East End town boards.
At the end of January, Brookhaven Town adopted the standards, which are tougher on nitrogen discharge, he said.
Brookhaven’s local law requires more stringent nitrogen standards for sewage effluent in the intermediate flow category, which includes large commercial restaurants, restaurants and other businesses but excludes single family homes, McAllister said; the legislation addresses facilities with 1,000 to 30,000 gallons of flow per day.
Already existing establishments would have 10 years to make the required upgrades. The new legislation states that sanitary systems discharge no more than three parts per million of nitrogen concentration; countywide,that standard is no more than 10 parts per million of nitrogen concentration for drinking water, he said.
“This starts to address ecological” issues, McAllister said, as well as “local coastal and pond waters, and what they can sustain.”
The hope, McAllister said, is that towns including Southold can use Brookhaven’s new legislation as a model; he hopes to remind town boards of their local authority and encourage them to follow suit.
So far, McAllister has been to visit the East Hampton town board, where he said he was “well-received,” and where a wastewater management plan is being developed. “This would potentially be incorporated,” he said.
McAllister has also been before the Southampton Town board, who had some questions, including one involving restoration of local waters and de-nitrification.
Plans include a trip to the Shelter Island town board in March. So far, McAllister said he’s “trying to get Riverhead’s attention.” He hasn’t yet been invited to a town board meeting, he said.
In Southold, with large scale projects such at the Heritage at Cutchogue before the planning board, McAllister said the goal is achieve the best achievable standard of sewage treatment. “It’s so important. I hope the town board will investigate this and look to adopt similar legislation. It’s ground-breaking.” After many years of advocating for the environment, McAllister said, “It’s time for busting down these walls of inaction.”