Governor Hochul Signs Legislation to Protect Public Health, Improve Water Quality in Suffolk County

Government and Politics

May 23, 2024

From: New York Governor Kathy Hochul

Legislation S.8473/A.8993 Amends the Suffolk Water Quality Restoration Act

Advances Ballot Referendum to Fund Long Term Investments in Clean Water for Suffolk County

Governor Kathy Hochul on May 23rd, signed the Suffolk Water Quality Restoration Act to protect public health and improve water quality. Legislation S.8473/A.8993 will allow Suffolk County to put forward a ballot referendum that would fund long term investments in clean water systems and technology – revitalizing wastewater infrastructure for the residents of Suffolk County.

“Access to clean water is a basic need, and residents of Suffolk County deserve safe and reliable water infrastructure,” Governor Hochul said. “I am committed to protecting the health of all New Yorkers, and this bill is a promise to future generations that we will do everything in our power to protect your well-being.”



Legislation S.8473/A.8993 will make changes to the local revenue distribution for individual septic system and wastewater treatment projects. This legislation will help address barriers to housing development and reduce nitrogen discharge from local septic systems, thereby preserving drinking water quality, mitigating harmful algae blooms, and protecting local ecosystems.

Today's bill signing builds on the Governor's record investments in clean water. Governor Hochul has made upgrading clean water infrastructure a top priority, with statewide investments totaling $5.5 billion since 2017, of which $700 million has been invested on Long Island, including $66.1 million for the State Septic System replacement program.

This bill is a promise to future generations that we will do everything in our power to protect your well-being.”

Governor Kathy Hochul

State Senator Monica R. Martinez said, “Today, we have given authorization for the voters of Suffolk County to decide how best to address the impacts of nitrogen pollution. This serious threat to our region’s ground and surface waters is reversible, but only by making investments in the technology and infrastructure needed to stop its release into the environment. I am proud to have had this once-in-a-generation opportunity to sponsor legislation that addresses one of Long Island's greatest environmental challenges, and I thank Governor Hochul for her continued support.”

Assemblymember Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said, “Suffolk County’s environment and economy have been hampered for decades by a relentless trend of declining water quality. Over thirty years ago, New York enacted the nationally recognized Central Pine Barrens Preservation Act protecting more than 100,000 acres of land to preserve our sole source aquifer. Yet, the legacy of overdevelopment still left us with continuing risks to our water resources. Today, with the enactment of the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act, we bookend those efforts to protect water quality first begun with the Pine Barrens Act. This legislation will provide a recurring local source of funding to upgrade septic systems and sewage treatment from Montauk to Babylon. It will provide Suffolk with more than $6 billion in local dollars to leverage state and federal infrastructure money to remediate our water. It is now up to the voters. My thanks to Governor Hochul for her early and staunch support for this legislation.”

Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine said, “We thank the Governor for her continued commitment to helping Suffolk County ensure clean water for generations to come. Today’s bill signing is a shining example of government working together for the people, who will now have their chance to vote for this important initiative.”

Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature Kevin McCaffrey said, “I am proud to be part of this historic legislation which will enable Suffolk County to protect its drinking and surface waters for generations to come. I look forward to working with stakeholders to ensure this referendum will be approved overwhelmingly by the voters in November.”

Suffolk County Legislature Minority Leader Jason Richberg said, “After many months of delays, we have finally reached the point where Suffolk County voters will have their voices heard on water quality. Long Island loves our beaches and parks, and this funding would transform our wastewater management infrastructure and allow us to enjoy them and ensure access for all for generations to come. I would like to thank Governor Hochul, Senator Martinez, and Assembly members Thiele and Jean-Pierre for their support and advocacy for our region.”

President of the Suffolk County Village Officials Association Dennis Siry said, “Water quality is a very critical issue on Long Island, especially in Suffolk County. We are very happy to see Governor Hochul seriously addressing this issue. We appreciate her being part of Long Island and signing this important bill.”

Chairman of the Suffolk County Supervisors Association and Supervisor of the Town of Babylon Rich Schaffer said, “Governor Hochul's leadership in partnering with County Executive Romaine and the Suffolk County Legislature to ensure that there will be a funding source for much needed clean water and sewer infrastructure for the next 50 years is to be commended. I urge Babylon Town residents to support this referendum in November.”

President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe said, “After decades of enduring nitrogen-polluted water and with so many homes in need of a new septic system or a transition to sewers, the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act will empower residents to comprehensively address this public health crisis facing their communities. We applaud Senator Martinez and Assemblymember Thiele for sponsoring this NYLCV Scorecard bill, as well as Suffolk County Executive Romaine and the county legislature for their support, and we salute Governor Hochul for her bold leadership on the issue of water quality on Long Island and across the state.”

President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties Matthew Aracich said, “Today we are proud to stand alongside Governor Hochul as she signs the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act into law. This is the single most important piece of state legislation drafted exclusively for Long Island in more than half a century. The buildout of sewer infrastructure resulting from this law will not only create thousands of jobs, but it will also catapult our region into the future. This monumental effort would not have been possible without the hard work of the bill sponsors, Senator Martinez and Assemblyman Thiele, in addition to our entire coalition.”

President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO John R. Durso, and Ryan Stanton, Executive Director of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO said, “We thank Governor Hochul for signing the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act (SCWQRA). It is a vital step to improve our region’s water quality. With the signing of this bill, Long Island is one step closer to guaranteeing the availability of clean drinking water and maintaining the viability of our coastlines while creating thousands of union jobs with family-sustaining wages in the process.”

Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment Adrienne Esposito said, “Long Island’s quest for better management of wastewater to protect our drinking and coastal waters just took a giant leap forward. It is truly exciting when you witness the culmination of good science, good leadership and good government come together to provide for the necessity of clean water. For over a decade environmental and labor leaders have educated and advocated for a reliable funding stream to replace polluting septic systems and upgrade and expand sewer infrastructure. This historic legislation creates the essential path needed for Suffolk residents to vote on our clean water future. We are immensely appreciative of Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Senator Monica Martinez and Governor Kathy Hochul for all their efforts, support and work to get this done.”

Long Island Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy in New York Kevin McDonald said, “The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Hochul for her swift approval of legislation that will enable Suffolk County voters to create a clean water future. The Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act will drastically reduce pollution and restore our bays and harbors by making critical infrastructure improvements not only possible, but affordable to residents and businesses. We thank the Governor for her environmental leadership and look forward to working with Suffolk County to bring clean water back to Suffolk County.”

Executive Director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association Marc Herbst said, “Long Island’s water quality issues developed over the course of decades, and it will take decades to fully resolve them. Establishing a dedicated funding source to expand sewers and replace outdated technology with clean water septics is a critical step towards reversing this troubling trend and I applaud the Assembly, Senate and Governor Hochul for their decisive action in pushing this initiative forward to ensure we are able to get this on the ballot in November.”