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.
It is only legal and proper that these funds be returned so that Suffolk County, including Steven Bellone's office, can focus on the enormous task of dealing with Long Island's water quality issues. With 360,000 septic tanks leeching nitrogenous waste into our ground water, billions will need to be spent on sewering and on modernizing a 19th Century infrastructure. As it stands, our drinking water is threatened, and the polluted ground water is systematically killing all our bays, ponds, and rivers by triggering massive algal blooms. The County cannot ask the public for more money -- a lot more money - on one hand while on the other taking that money out to paper over budget shortfalls. It marks a violation of public trust.
It is important to remember that many of the land use issues discussed each week have real impacts to the lives of Long Islanders, and failure to heed economic and environmental warning signs can lead to real consequences. If we fail to protect our water system, the consequences will be dire.
In recent weeks, environmentalists, New York State government leaders, News 12 Long Island and others have been working on a public campaign to increase public awareness about Long Island’s drinking and surface waters. Failing to protect the aquifer is costly on a variety of fronts. With the recent call for state intervention, and the return of brown tide on the South Shore, it’s critical that action is taken sooner rather than later.