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."
August 27th 2013 – Last week, Rust tides caused by the dinoflagellate, Cochlodinium, emerged on eastern Long Island and have since spread east through the Peconic Estuary and Shinnecock Bay. A recent study performed more than two dozen experiments over a four year period in five different Long Island estuaries and found that the loading of nitrogen during significantly increased the growth of Cochlodinium relative to other phytoplankton groups, demonstrating that nitrogen promotes rust tides (1; see figure). In south shore bays, the primary source of nitrogen is septic tanks (2). Recent investigations of the Peconic Estuary found that septic tanks, cesspools, and fertilizers were all important nitrogen sources (3).
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.
*Brown tide emerges in Moriches, Quantuck, and Shinnecock Bay, but not in Great South Bay; Presence of new ocean inlet in Great South Bay may help keep brown tide in check*