Bethpage Water District (BWD) Superintendent Michael Boufis, on behalf of District Commissioners William J. Ellinger, John R. Sullivan and John F. Coumatos recently testified before the Health and Environmental Conservation Committees of the Senate and Assembly as the voice of the Bethpage community. In an effort to gain financial and advocacy support from the committee, the Superintendent explained the history of groundwater contamination that has plagued the Bethpage community for decades. Boufis made claims that Bethpage residents deserve better and that this plume no longer be ignored.
“The cleanup of this plume is not the sole responsibility of the Bethpage community and its water district,” said Superintendent Michael Boufis. “The District is grateful of the recent involvement of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation, this plume is of statewide significance, and it is about time it received the level of attention and engagement it deserves from this committee and our local elected officials.”
During the Superintendent’s testimony, he requested simply assistance from the committee. He stressed the need for financial support as the District has been forced to cover costs for state-of-the-art treatment systems, new wells and treatment facilities located beyond the boundaries of the plume. He also asked the committee to consider the future and any further needs to adopt treatment. Boufis proclaimed that the burden should not be placed upon the District and the District’s tax payers, who played no part in creating this environmental problem.
“Our priority is to serve as the voice of our community,” said Chairman William J. Ellinger. “We would like to thank our Superintendent for telling the committee what it needed to hear. We are a strong, united community that has carried the weight of this issue on their shoulders for far too long. We will continue to fight for the support we need, to leave the past in the past and enter a future of clean, safe groundwater.”
Superintendent Michael Boufis also called upon the committee to consider the gravity of this situation and how it should be used as a catalyst for meaningful change. The Superintendent called upon the committee to provide the advocacy support needed to not only make the remediation of this plume a priority in the eyes of the appropriate authorities, but also establish regulations that prevent a plume of this magnitude from occurring elsewhere and in the future; and if it should, put a procedure in place for dealing with such crises systematically and swiftly.
“For decades, this committee and other local elected officials have remained silent in relation to Bethpage residents and their cries for help,” said Commissioner John R. Sullivan. “Your District will not let that deter us for speaking out in an effort to receive the justice and progress this community deserves.”
The Health and Environmental Conservation Committees are chaired by New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, New York State Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, New York State Senator Karen O’Mara and New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright. The joint hearing took place Monday, September 12, 2016 at the William H. Rogers Building in Smithtown, NY. The Superintendent was one of 32 people who testified on the grounds of water quality and contamination.
“The Bethpage Water District will continue to work tirelessly to serve our residents the uninterrupted, high quality water service it has come to expect,” said Commissioner John F. Coumatos. “That will never change. The District just hopes it can create a partnership with this committee in an effort better reach that goal.”
For more information and to view Superintendent Michael Boufis’s testimony please log on to www.bethpagewater.org or the District’s Facebook page at facebook.com/BethpageWaterDistrict. Video coverage of the Superintendent's testimony can be found here or access to the entire hearing can be found on the New York State Assembly’s site or by using this link: http://nystateassembly.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=8&clip_id=3705