Tomorrow at 12:30, I will be hosting the first episode of the first season of Water Matters (click here for live stream or for watching archived video) My guest will be Prof. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook’s School of Atmospheric and Marine Science (SOMAS). We chose Chris because any discussion of water quality on Long Island, especially when it comes to nitrogen, whether from septic tanks, fertilizers, or the atmosphere, and its effect on flora and fauna, can’t really go to far without him. Chris is a global expert in the field of algal blooms —
Brown tide, rust tide,mahogany tide, blue-green algae, red tide, PSP (paralytic shellfish poisoning), macro algae, ulva — Prof. Gobler did not intend to become an expert in algal blooms when we went to graduate school at Stony Brook. It was the fact that as he went through school and into his professional life, he saw the waters he grew up around increasingly stricken by these blooms, severely damaging marine habitat. He is now a world expert on algal blooms. Not coincidentally, Long Island has become a major site for a growing variety of algal blooms, blooms that seem to intensify each season.
It was in part Prof. Gobler’s work in 2005 that identified the nitrogen that seeps into the groundwater from the 500,000 septic tanks and then eventually into our waters as a major contributor to the algal blooms. At this stage, thanks in no small part to Prof. Gobler, local, state and federal officials and agencies are focusing their efforts on what can be done in the way of clean water tech, waste water tech, on site denitrification systems, and sewering to address the nitrogen problem before its too late, when all our marshes are gone, along with the fish and shellfish and birds, etc., and with that coastal resilience that protects us from storms. Long Island’s dying waters are the biggest environmental crisis you’ve never heard of, but not for lack of trying on Prof. Gobler’s part.
It will be a great pleasure to have him as that first guest on “Water Matters.” Chris’ presentation and interview will dovetail well with what Doug Wood, Executive Director of Grassroots Environmental Education will have to say as he stands on “The Soap Box.” He will be calling for organic lawn care on Long Island. What you put on your lawn will eventually end up in our bays, exacerbating our issues, or seep into our aquifer and into our drinking water.
Note that Doug and Water Matters is actively seeking people / organizations who want their own turn on that Soap Box to say in 90 seconds or less what issue needs to be addressed. Your remarks will be produced at our Port Washington studio, then aired in a future episode of Water Matters. Please send your script to [email protected].
Water Matters will also be running 30 second commercials during the show: “If you’ve got a smart phone or video camera, why not use it to make a short 30-second video about your group, your campaign, your agency or your department? We’ll run your spot during commercial breaks in the show. For more information and technical specs, please contact Associate Producer Matthew Rizzo at [email protected].”
When Doug approached me about the show, he did so in part because he and I are trying to address a problem of scaling: How can we all interact effectively given that there is 100+ environmental organizations on Long Island? How do we share information better with each other, coordinate our efforts? How do we do this organizing when as we all know it just takes forever to get anywhere for a meeting, lecture, panel discussion, press event, etc.
Doug’s vision is to create a library of TED-like talks / clips on water quality on Long Island that would be a resource for every environmental organization, their members, and the public at large.
I believe with the quality of the guests we already have for the ten part series, many thousands of Long Islanders will get a great deal out of this all. From this, we hope that Long Islanders will better understand what’s at stake and what we need to do to win back our waters.