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Monday, September 21, 2015 - Members of the Long Island Clean Water Partnership announced today a wrap-up of water quality conditions throughout Long Island this summer season.

Christopher J. Gobler, a professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University and principal investigator at the Gobler Lab, initiated a weekly program to monitor water quality levels across Long Island.  The Water Quality Index informed Long Islanders about the current conditions of local coastal waters, and News 12 Long Island broadcasted the lab’s reports on Thursdays and Fridays throughout July and August during its weather forecasts.

The culmination of that work, covering conditions at 28 sites across more than 80 miles from Hempstead to East Hampton, was announced and is available in a report.

“It began with toxic red tides in May and ended with a harmful rust tide that continues today across the entire south shore and east end Long Island,” said Dr. Christopher Gobler, Professor of Stony Brook University.  “In between, we witnessed one of the largest fish kills ever on Long Island, an unprecedented kill of endangered diamondback terrapin turtles, toxic blue-green algae in 15 lakes across the Island, a brown tide across all of Long Island’s south shore, seaweeds on ocean beaches, oxygen depleted waters found at more than 20 locations from Hempstead to East Hampton.  The confluence of all of these events in all these places across Long island in a single season is a troubling development.”

“Indeed, this report shows the biggest environmental threat facing Long Island is nitrogen pollution from sewage,” said Kevin McDonald, conservation finance and policy director for The Nature Conservancy on Long Island. “Beach closures, fish kills from pollution and unsafe conditions keep us from enjoying the best of our local seafood, beaches and bays.”

“The continued bad news about water quality means Long Island must re-double its efforts to reduce nitrogen from wastewater and fertilizers, sooner, not later,” said Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.

“We have all seen the evidence of degraded water quality on Long Island this summer, from the massive fish and turtle die offs to beach closures to an increase in the frequency and severity of harmful algal blooms.  It is more apparent than ever that nitrogen pollution from our outdated sewage and septic systems is putting our environment and our health at risk. We need to be investing in the critical infrastructure projects that will protect our waterways in years to come,” noted Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The Partnership’s news conference was held at the Long Island Maritime Museum in front of the Great South Bay, a water body whose hard shell clam production has decreased 99% in the past 50 years and has not been able to recover as a direct result of nitrogen pollution from sewage.

The report on the summer of 2015 was compiled by Dr. Christopher Gobler, Professor of Stony Brook University, whose lab groups has been monitoring and sampling Long Island’s waters on a weekly basis all year.  Data was also collected from the Long Island Sound Study which is funded by USEPA.  The bulk of the data was reported weekly on News 12 as part of their weekly Water Quality Index.



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