We absolutely need to start managing our drinking water on Long Island, or we will not have any drinking water in due time. Salt water intrusion has already begun to taint the aquifers because we pump far too much water out, half for our lawns. We've chosen our lawns over our children, above the needs of future generations! Toxic plumes of VOCs (Volatile Organic Chemicals) large and small, seep ever further and wider into the groundwater, imperiling the one source of water we have.
This December finds Long Island's environmentalists, those in The Nature Conservancy, The Citizen's Campaign for the Environment, The Group For the East End, The Pine Barrens Society, and the 100+ local organizations in The Long Island Clean Water Partnership in a state of wonder and exhaustion: Wonder because politicians and policy makers at all levels of government and across the political spectrum are standing together. They are all in agreement with the science that shows that Long Island is in a water quality / water pollution crisis and that something must be done immediately and on a large scale to address it.
The State Legislature is only in session for one more day up in Albany. There is only a day left to bring to the floor (and pass!) The Long Island Water Quality Control Act A.9788A/S.7804. The future of Long Island's bays, rivers and ponds depend on it. Our drinking water depends on it.
The bill establishes pollution standards for residents, businesses, and agriculture , standards we are going to need in place if we are to save our waters and build a sustainable Long Island.
There are of course certain constituencies who don't want to see this bill passed because it would force them to change how they do business -- what they can put on the ground, in the air, in the water, what they can build where, what new water quality regulations they'd need to follow.
But two things about building a sustainable Long Island :
More recent data indicates that the rate of nitrogen infiltration into our drinking water has accelerated since 2005. At the same time, algal blooms have been increasing in intensity and variety and geographic distribution over the same period. The nitrogen seeping into our groundwater from septic tanks and fertilizers -- 500,000 septic tanks and from perhaps as many lawns, as well as farms has been driving these highly destructive blooms.
Beyond that, our waters show increased amounts of pesticides (117 have been detected in our ground water), pharmaceuticals (because we have a bad habit of flushing them down the toilet instead of properly disposing them) and volatile chemicals, both via industrial pollution and the improper disposal of household paints, solvents, glues and other hazardous waste.
The numbers are staggering – 500,000 septic tanks on Long Island. An estimated 2000 outfall pipes pouring runoff into our lakes, streams and bays with each rain. 100+ small dams and spillways blocking the way for ocean fish that would otherwise spawn. Clam harvests in the Great South Bay down well over 90 percent. Scallops in Peconic Bay all but wiped out by rust tide. Fish populations a small fraction of what they were not too long ago.
Two of the charter members of The Long Island Clean Water Partnership, The Citizen’s Campaign For The Environment, and The Group For The East End, offer this overview of the state of Long Island’s waters — what is polluting them and what we can do about it.
News12 continues its series "What's in The Water?" with an hour Town Hall discussion -- aired 9/27/13
President of News12 Networks, Pat Dolan began his five part series on Long Island Water quality with Toxic Trails, which examines the growing underground plume of contaminants left in the ground by Grumman and its aerospace manufacturing facilities. The plume continues to grow, contaminating more and more wells that will in turn need very expensive filtering systems. Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of The Citizen's Campaign For The Environment, favors pumping out the contaminated water, citing the adverse health effects of having the contaminants in our air, water and soil.