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Calls For 'LI Compact' To Manage Water Resources

Long Island legislators take testimony from environmental and civic association activists at final public hearing on regional water security.

Challenges to Long Island's water resources are well known but what's been missing, say environmental activists, is a single entity to oversee management of those water resources.

At the third of a series of  "water security" community meetings called by Suffolk County Legis. William R Spencer, D-Huntington, and Nassau County Legis. Judi Bosworth, D-Great Neck, Wednesday at the Cold Spring Harbor Library, the idea of a bi-county Long Island Compact to comprehensively oversee water resource management for the region surfaced.

The concept was broached before representatives of environmental organizations, civic associations, business and government agencies on hand as members of the public shared their ideas and concerns about water quality management issues on Long Island.

Also in attendance were Assemblyman-elect Chad Lupinacci, Huntington Town board member Mark Mayoka, and Suffolk County Legis. Kara Hahn, D-Port Jefferson, chair of the legislature‘s Environment, Planning and Agriculture committee.

Unlike other areas in the state, which rely on surface water for their drinking water, Long Island is principally supplied from an underground aquifer, tapped with wells and replenished through the filtration of rainwater through the ground.

There are well documented challenges to Long Island’s precious aquifer -- nitrates, VOCs, pesticides and plumes among them. And more recently the danger of seawater infiltration into the drinking water has become a growing concern.

To meet those challenges, over the years a patchwork of agencies and organizations have put plans in place to enhance waste water treatment methodologies, control the use of fertilizers, pesticides and certain organic chemicals, and preserve open space for clean recharge of the aquifer.

Suffolk County adopted a comprehensive water management plan in 1987, and an update to that has been circulating for the last year or so -- a draft of which is available online -- which delineates specific goals and objectives through the year 2030 to protect the region’s aquifer.

The problem, said Spencer, is simple: “There are many levels of government, but no one authority.”

“What management systems we have in place are understaffed, overextended, and ill-equipped,” agreed Bosworth."We've turned to the NYS DEC for too long. They're not water managers."

“There are sixty five water purveyors, but no single organization to monitor water for our whole aquifer,” said Dorothea Cappadona, chairman of the Lloyd Harbor Conservation Board.

Wednesday’s conversation gravitated quickly to the need for an umbrella organization to replace piecemeal efforst with a single comprehensive management system for the region's water resources.

Sarah Meyland, director of the Center for Water Resources Management at NYIT, spoke forcefully in favor of the creation of a Long Island Aquifer Compact. "The rest of New York State relies on management Compacts that have the authority to manage the resources for all stakeholders in the resource," she said. "Long Island needs the services of a Compact too." 

The typical annual budget for compacts upstate, Meyland estimated, is $5-6 million dollars after startup.

That’s “not a lot of money” for a single regional entity to manage the water resources of Nassau and Suffolk, said Hahn.

“We can look at various ways to fund something like that," she said. "Yes, we have a comprehensive management plan that’s being drafted, but it’s a matter of administering effectively, and getting both Suffolk and Nassau County on board rather than doing it piecemeal.”

“There are models to create a management system from -- a compact, or whatever you want to call it,” concluded Bosworth. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

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Ron December 07, 2012 at 01:52 PM
" I avoid drinking water because of all the nasty things fish do in it. "- WC Fields
Muto December 07, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Maybe we need a government agency to regulate these so called activists
SoccerMom78 December 07, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Though our water is safe to drink, the quality of the resource is declining. This Compact solution would take the control of our water supply out of Albany's hands and empower LI.
Anonymous December 08, 2012 at 02:11 PM
The regional NYSDEC office in Stony Brook should be our voice for Long Island. They can hire "water managers" and already have the authority to do this work for FAR less than 5-6 million dollars. An authority to oversee our groundwater would be another political dumping ground and add another layer of bureaucracy. Hasn't anyone read that Newsday article about LIPA??? Wake up America!
Dennis A. O'Connor December 08, 2012 at 02:18 PM
i was aware of the iron i am aware of the level of iron and rust in my water supply merely by having to change my under the sink "Ecoquest' watewr filters much too often. the white pre-filter turns a bright orange after a short time. i recently did an oil to gas conversion (best thing I ever did)and my plumber called to my attention when he was cutting some old copper pipes away....he had a 3/4" pipe open and put his finger into the open hole....it was like peanut butter...this is what my water coming in to the house had to travel through before it reached the kitchen sink & filter. I had him run a brand new water line from where it first comes into the house to the kitchen sink cold water line. He used a relatively new product, PEX plastic...available at a plumbing supply for about $40 / 100'...gtreat stuff...no soldering and it can be bent very easily. You must get the "blue" line as it is approved for drinking water as opposed to the white line which is for heating water. I would strongly suggest that folks should have their pipes tested for this possible problem....it just takes a few minutes...cut through a pipe and put your finger in....then just solder a union back on the cut pipe....with all the breast cancer in this specific area it's no wonder we have this problem. My house is 49 years old if this should make any difference. I will be happy to advise and or assist anyone in this matter.

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