As the bill in Albany died, a plan on Long Island was born. Now it is truly up to Governor Cuomo's 'task force' on Water Quality and Coastal Resiliency to hold the last of its four public meetings and offer its recommendations. Will Governor Cuomo have the vision and drive to move past the Albany nonsense to protect and restore the water sole source supply of drinking water for 3 million Long islanders, and the $5 billion dollar per year cash cow coastal economy of New York State? Will Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone step up and make the sweeping agency reforms recommended by the expert panel from IBM Smarter Cities Program? If so - then best of times indeed. Between IBM and the many dozens of experts in consultation now on water quality issues, we have the very best science in the world at hand to address our problems. We need to leverage this fact. "We have to."
While Will James depicts the issue of the breach / New Inlet as an ongoing conflict, with a decision in the balance, with the environmentalists pitted against the home owners, a year on post Sandy I'd have to say that the debate over the breach is pretty much over. The public has spoken. Emails, phone calls, public meetings. Many meetings with politicians and policy makers, dozens of environmental organizations working together in support of science and the case for leaving the breach alone. We stand with our flooded neighbors, and want to see them get the help they need quickly, with the money spent wisely and the work done well. At this point, the vast majority understand that spending $20 million to plug the breach would provide absolutely no protection from the next big storm.
The article's main proponent for closing the breach is Aram Terchunian, who is described in the article as "Long Island coastal geologist who has worked as a consultant on other breach-closure projects." He is also Founder and CEO of First Coastal, a firm that has made a lot of money on Long Island over the years pushing sand around. He refers to the breach as "a giant hole" must be plugged. To quote Upton Sinclair, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" Sandy knocked Fire Island 75 feet north. It took with it 52% of Fire Island's sand. The water's coming, and spending $20 million so that a contractor fills it in (at great environmental damage to what is now by far the healthiest part of the The Great South Bay) is pure folly, and most people -- scientists and the general public -- now know that. He says "its not rocket science" to conclude filling the breach would mitigate flooding, but as he is the lone voice making the argument to close it, arrayed against a number of marine scientists with years of data at their disposal, one must ask him what kind of science he is practicing and where his data is.
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.