Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Long Island Clean Water Partnership?
A: The Clean Water Partnership is a coalition of Long Island’s leading conservation organizations including Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Group for the East End, Long Island Pine Barrens Society and The Nature Conservancy. Together, we are partnering and collaborating with scientists, public officials, community members, and a number of other stakeholders in order to implement solutions to the decline in water quality on Long Island.
Q: What is an aquifer?
A: Aquifer means “water bearing rock”. It is an underground layer of unconsolidated rock and soil materials that carry and transmit groundwater. Long Island has a federally designated sole-source aquifer which means that 100% of our drinking water for 2.8 million Long Islanders in Nassau and Suffolk Counties comes from the groundwater.
Q: How is our drinking water connected to our surface waters- our bays and estuaries?
A: Drinking water and surface waters share a vital connection. On Long Island, underground aquifers store our only source of fresh drinking water for Nassau and Suffolk Counties. These aquifers are not static; they slowly flow from high ground to low, recharged by rainfall, and they supply the majority of fresh water entering our streams, lakes, and bays.
Q: What evidence is there that water quality on Long Island is declining?
A: Science conclusively shows deteriorating water quality in Long Island’s groundwater. Nitrogen pollution from sewage, most notably aging sewer and septic systems, flows from our aquifers into our bays and harbors, damaging salt marshes, causing harmful algae blooms, reducing fish and shellfish populations and closing our beaches. Additionally, 117 pesticides have been detected in our groundwater as well as toxic and volatile organic compounds, and pharmaceutical drugs.
Q: Who is in charge of protecting Long Island’s water and why are they failing to do so?
A: Many government agencies share responsibility for protecting Long Island’s waters resources. As a result, water quality protection has never been effectively centralized. No single agency has final responsibility or public accountability for restoring and maintaining clean water. Water quality standards, rules, regulations, policies and programs derive from an array of local, regional, state and federal agencies. For example, in Nassau County alone, 40 separate entities distribute drinking water.
Q: How does the Partnership propose Long Island fund water quality improvement?
A: There are many ways to fund water quality improvement: tax credits, upgrade incentives, sales tax, bond act, water rate adjustments and many more. Once new water quality standards are set and enforcement has been provided for, we’ll know what funding mechanisms make the most sense. One thing’s for sure: the cost of fixing the water problem will be far less than the cost of destroying Long Island’s drinking water and surface waters.
Q: How do I get more involved?
A: Individuals can join the Partnership by visiting our website: www.longislandcleanwaterpartnership.org. Once a member, our site will allow you to send a letter to your elected officials asking them to make clean water a priority. Partners can stay informed by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Lastly, everyone should spread the word and talk about these issues with family, friends and fellow Long Islanders.