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.
Here is a infographic on the impact of Nitrogen on shellfish.
Here is a map of water quality issues Summer of 2013 on Long Island.
A global expert on algal blooms and nitrogenous waste, Prof. Gobler has been tireless in getting his message out to all Long Islanders and to the country -- we have a very serious problem with polluted ground water, and it is triggering algal blooms -- brown tide, rust tide, red tide, blue-green algae -- and wiping out marine and fresh water habitats. As a part of The Long Island Clean Water Partnership (please sign up and help out!), a group of some 125+ organizations seeking to build a sustainable Long Island, SCERP (The Stony Brook Coastal and Estuarine Research Project) is contributing some of the basic scientific research that is helping us to identify our water problems and to develop the solutions.
This is so discouraging. The brown tide has come back with a vengeance. It is widespread (except at the inlets, the New Inlet included), and the longer it lasts, the more damage it will do to habitats and to shell fish and fin fish. This new algal bloom just underlines the fact that if we don't start to address immediately how our septic tanks, antiquated sewer systems, and lawn and agricultural fertilizer are fueling these algal blooms by loading the groundwater with nitrogen, our bay, and all our bays will die.
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.
Long Island environmental groups are banding together to stem the flow of nitrogen into the region’s groundwater and bays.
The initiative announced Tuesday follows what environmentalists are calling the worst year on record for ecological problems related to nitrogen, a nutrient that feeds algal blooms blamed for devastating much of the island’s marine life over the last three decades.
Fishermen and scientists report cleaner water and more marine life in the Great South Bay since superstorm Sandy blasted a new inlet across Fire Island, the slender land barrier that separates the Long Island bay from the Atlantic Ocean.
Michael Busch of Bellport takes News12 out to The Old Inlet/Breach to show them how much healthier that part of the bay has become since Sandy created it six months ago -- fluke, sea turtles, seal, osprey, clear waters.
With over 500,000 septic tanks on Long Island, we have a monumental water quality problem on our hands. With a further 180 local small scale sewage treatment plants on Long Island, the problem gets worse. With antiquated large scale treatment facilities further polluting our bays, chief among them The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, crippled by Sandy and spewing millions upon millions of gallons of semi-treated sewage into the Western Bays, we have a disaster of monumental proportions on our hands, yet the issue is vastly under reported, and both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the EPA are failing to address the issue, refusing, it seems, to enforce the laws already on the books, specifically The Clean Water Act.
The outbreak of the brown tide caused by Aureococcus in Great South Bay during late June and early July came as a surprise to citizens and scientists alike as it ended nearly eight months of what some had deemed “gin-clear” water facilitated in part by the new ocean inlet created by Hurricane Sandy. An analysis of environmental data (see accompanying graphic; salinity and chlorophyll data courtesy of Dr. C. Flagg) during June provides some clear signs as to the cause of this brown tide.
Knowing now the task at hand, we have no choice but to take it on. To say this problem is too big is to say Long Island has no future. Without clean water, we have no bays, rivers, and ponds worth having. Without clean water, what do we drink, bathe in, or wash with? In the end, it is up to us to act responsibly on the conclusions of SCERP's research. The very first step we can take in that is to make sure everyone on Long Island is familiar with their work and their conclusions. Tell your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers. We must move from knowledge to awareness to action if we are to preserve Long Island and its waters for future generations. Make no mistake - this problem will cost billions to fix. Eco friendly septic tanks and toilets would need to be deployed throughout Nassau and Suffolk. Sewage treatment plants would need to be modernized and rebuilt. With the total value of Long Island real estate easily in the hundreds of billions of dollars, one would think the infrastructure investment would be worth it.