Groundwater Monitoring For Mining

A new Southampton Town code amendment would require mining operations to monitor groundwater impacts.

The Southampton Town Board will hold a hearing this month on a new law that would require mining operations to monitor the groundwater impacts of their activities.

The town noted that the New York State Mined Land Reclamation Law declares it is a state objective that mining should be conducted in a way that ensures “the protection and enhancement of . . . aquatic resources.” Such policy is reflected in mining permits and individual mined land use plans.

Recent studies conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Suffolk County Department of Health Services have outlined the significant potential for negative impacts on groundwater associated with mining activities.

Following this discovery, state environmental conservation law was amended to grant the authority to local governments to enact or enforce local laws or ordinances to monitor “groundwater impacts resulting from mining or the reclamation of mines within counties with populations of one million or more people which draw their primary water source of drinking water for the majority of country residents from a designated sole aquifer,” which essentially means Suffolk and Nassau counties.

The hearing notice points out that the town is heavily reliant on its sole source aquifer and it is imperative that it take all precautions to ensure that anyone engaging in mining in closely monitors any effect it has on groundwater.

“Routine groundwater sampling and monitoring can help determine what, if any, groundwater resources may be impacted from these types of operations and provide an early warning system for any current or future groundwater contamination,” the notice stated.

The town’s decision comes shortly after the DEC approved a settlement that will allow the Sand Land sand mine in Noyac to continue operating for eight years. Neighbors, environmentalists, and government officials have sought for several years to have the site, where large-scale composting and recycling operations also took place, shut down. Last week, the town board, noting that the DEC in September announced it would rescind Sand Land’ mining permit, wrote a letter to the agency condemning its about-face.

The hearing will be held at the board’ s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 PM on April 30 at Town Hall.

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