Governments Can Expand Water Quality Monitoring of Mines

Construction debris being unloaded at the Sand Land sand mine and mulching facility on Millstone Road in Noyac in March.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation this week that authorizes local governments to enact and enforce local laws requiring the monitoring of groundwater impacts resulting from mining or reclamation of mines within countries with populations of one million or more or which draw their primary source of drinking water from a sole source aquifer, like Suffolk County.

The legislation was sponsored by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and passed both houses in the state legislature by wide margins.

“We have seen time and again that mining operations on Long Island present a clear and present threat to our drinking water supply,” Mr. Thiele said in a press release issued Tuesday. “The most recent example is Sand Land in Noyac. Suffolk County had to go to court to gain the right to test the groundwater. Ultimately, the county found pollution well in excess of drinking water standards. The state DEC has now begun the process of terminating the mining permit. It is in our best interest to require a comprehensive groundwater monitoring program on and around mining sites on Long Island. Routine groundwater sampling and monitoring can help determine what groundwater resources may be impacted from these types of operations and provide an early warning system for any current or future groundwater contamination.”

“It’s critically important that we continue to take a proactive approach to environmental protection of our land and water,” said Senator LaValle. “Comprehensive ground-water monitoring programs on and around mining sites are crucial to determining impacts on our drinking water supply. This new law will provide the tools necessary to examine, evaluate and protect the quality of our drinking water.”