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Long Islanders Concerned About and Willing to Pay for Water Quality as Summer Kicks Off

East Hampton, New York Tuesday, May 21, 2013 -- The Long Island Clean Water Partnership, a consortium of environmental conservation organizations, advocacy groups, businesses and concerned citizens, announced today the results of a recent survey of Long Island voters showing there is significant concern about water quality here. Residents feel that water quality is getting worse – and expressed a resounding desire specifically to upgrade water quality standards to abate the biggest water quality threat– nitrogen pollution. Support for clean water is so important that voters are willing to help pay for the necessary improvements.

"As summer kicks off this weekend, people will be going to the beach for the first time this year. This is a good time to be thinking about protecting our surface water quality that has been recently been plagued with red tides and shellfish closures," said Dr. Marci Bortman, Director of Conservation Programs for The Nature Conservancy on Long Island. "Such impacts are linked to the amount of nitrogen pollution from sewage that leads directly to our waterways. We can't enjoy our beaches and bays when pollution from sewage leads to beach closures, fish kills and unsafe conditions."

While not all respondents were aware that aging sewer and septic systems leak nitrogen into Long Island's ground water, when asked to focus specifically on it, nearly all Long Island voters register concern about this problem. Robert DeLuca, President of the Group for the East End added, "Voters overwhelmingly support policies which would address this type of pollution as well. Fully 85 percent support setting a new government standard to reduce levels of nitrogen pollution."

"It's not surprising that Long Islanders have strong personal connections to our waters," said Adrienne Esposito, Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Water is what defines life on Long Island, whether it is to swim or go to the beach, fish or clam, hike walk or jog, watch birds or wildlife, boat or kayak. Even Long Islanders who drink bottled or filtered water still have to shower, bathe and cook with water from the tap. Voters want to do whatever it takes to keep these resources clean and healthy."

"Specifically, three-in-four voters back local governments on Long Island spending $3 billion over 20 years in efforts to clean up and prevent pollution of our rivers, lakes and bays," said Richard Amper, Executive Director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society. "Simply put, Long Islanders want clean water and are willing to pay for it. When compared with a gallon of gas or milk, tap water is cheap: just 1 cent a gallon, and we ought to act now and do what it takes to ensure it is clean."

In order to address the issues facing water quality and come up with workable solutions, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, Group for the East End, The Nature Conservancy, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment have launched the Long Island Clean Water Partnership to promote protection and restoration of Long Island's unique water resources. The partnership will work to enact a reduction in the amount of nitrogen coming from wastewater – whether from a sewage treatment plant or septic systems. Members of the Clean Water partnership will engage with decision-makers at all levels of government to determine the most sensible and fair approaches.

"A new water quality standard will protect the Long Island way of life. Working together, we can leave cleaner waters for our children and grandchildren," added Dr. Bortman. "We owe it to them to clean up and protect the waters that we rely on for our health, livelihood and recreation."

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