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New York State Center For Clean Water Technology Exploring Cesspool Replacement Options

Sydney A. Braat

Proposed systems called Nitrogen Removing Biofilters (NRBs). (Courtesy Photo)

The New York State Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University (SBU) is making great strides in a positive direction as they attempt to introduce a potential replacement for Long Island cesspools. This replacement would remove high amounts of nitrogen from household wastewater, a contaminant identified as the primary cause of local quality degradation on Long Island.

"These simple systems comprised of sand and finely ground wood are demonstrating an ability to treat household wastewater as well or better than the most advanced wastewater treatment plants," said Dr. Chris Gobler, Center Co-Director and Professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. "Similar in footprint and basic functionality to a drain field, the most common form of onsite wastewater dispersal around the country, we call them Nitrogen Removing Biofilters (NRBs), and the next step is to pilot them at residences to see if they can consistently perform in more dynamic situations."

SBU is currently testing the system to ensure effectiveness and they hope to begin the installation locally by early fall of 2016, as part of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services' demonstration for innovative and alternative septic treatment systems.

The non-proprietary system is explained in detail at www.stonybrook.edu. The Center values collaborative work, which has led to the engagement of leading experts in the field from the public and private sectors.

The Center is hoping to move in a more green and healthy direction to protect members of the Long Island community. "Identifying new technology is crucial to protecting our water resources," said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The Center for Clean Water Technology is fulfilling its mission by developing new technologies that have the potential to provide affordable, more effective onsite waste treatment systems. DEC looks forward to working with the Center for Clean Technology Center to further advance these important concepts."

We rely on water to survive and it is a huge part of our daily life, here on Long Island. It is vital that we protect not only the water we consume, but ourselves. "Protecting our water supply and keeping our waters pristine is critically important for all of Long Island. I am pleased to see that the state investments we made in the Center for Clean Water are already showing great progress," Senator Ken LaValle, who was instrumental in obtaining funding for the Center, said. "The release of this initial "White Paper" by the Center illustrates the type of research that is crucial to developing the most cost effective means for eliminating contaminates from our groundwater. I look forward to working together with the Center to identify new, innovative clean water technologies for Long Island."

For more information, visit www.stonybrook.edu.

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