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.
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.
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.
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.
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.