Endorsement: Steve Bellone for Suffolk County Executive

When bike sharing was announced for Riverhead Town in September, Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith called the program “super exciting.” The Suffolk County program is called Bethpage Ride, and 17 locations in the county have been set up to date, with five in Hampton Bays.

To the delight of Riverhead officials, Bethpage Ride will soon be up and running in multiple locations in the town, including several downtown but also at the 9.2-mile Vietnam Veterans Memorial Trail at EPCAL, which is already popular with bike riders. Dozens of rental bikes will be kept at docking stations.

Bethpage Ride is a creation of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s activist administration, and is among his best proposals. Here on the East End, another, far more urgent proposal has been pushed by the Bellone administration that shows his thinking on critical environmental issues: the county’s strong support for the installation of I/A septic systems as a means to reduce nitrogen pollution in groundwater.

Suffolk County is the most densely populated area with septic systems in the United States. These systems are heavy polluters of groundwater — the water we drink. The Bellone administration began promoting the news systems, called Innovative and Alternative On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems, which are said to reduce nitrogen by up to 70%. They also cost individual homeowners in excess of $20,000.

Mr. Bellone’s staff has held community meetings in Southold — and more are planned for Riverhead — to promote the systems, but also to promote access to county grants of up to $20,000 to cover installation costs. This is very important news for the East End, where septic systems are ubiquitous and, in hundreds of locations, very close to saltwater. By last spring, 102 systems had been installed countywide. On Tuesday, Mr. Bellone announced that more than 100 county residents applied for the grants in October.

This is very good news, and we on eastern Long Island need to do whatever it takes to keep our groundwater safe and our creeks and bays clean. Mr. Bellone’s opponents are John M. Kennedy, running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines, and Gregory John Fischer, on the Libertarian line.

We endorse Steve Bellone for Suffolk County executive.