Suffolk County tightens regulations on cesspools, septic systems

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Suffolk County is tightening its regulations on cesspools and septic systems.

Currently, 75% of the homes in the county, or about 380,000 residences, have cesspools, which have leaked over the years, causing fisheries to die out and pollution to the waterways.

"We know why that happened, we saw the nitrogen levels increase by up to 200% due to onsite septic systems. We saw the onset of brown tides, red tides, blue green algae, all of which were contributing to the collapse of those fisheries," said Stony Brook professor and scientist Chris Gobler.

Now, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has signed a new law requiring all new construction to install advanced wastewater treatment systems.

"We do not have a prosperous future if we are not protecting water quality," Bellone said.

"This is a day where Suffolk County is changing course on the history of water for future generations," Gobler said.

The new law goes into effect next July. Each system costs about $20,000.