Locals Join Call To Protect Long Island’s Drinking Water

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Elected officials, activists and residents gathered outside the Legislative Building to seek drinking water safeguards.

The New York City Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is considering allowing New York City to renew a permit to reopen four wells in Queens for “emergency purposes.” All of these wells connect to the Lloyd Aquifer, which is the only source of water on Long Island for more than a million people. The concern is that if these wells are opened and the estimated 68 million gallons a day are pumped, saltwater might intrude and/or toxic plumes could be pulled into the Lloyd. Either case would render the water unusable for generations.

A press conference was held on the steps of the Nassau County Legislative Building on Jan. 25, where County Executive Laura Curran joined other elected officials and advocates to announce a letter addressed to Governor Andrew Cuomo. This initiative was led by Mindy Germain, Lead Organizer for the Western Nassau County Aquifer Committee, Residents Forward Executive Director and Port Washington Water District Commissioner. Signed by a broad coalition consisting of dozens of elected officials representing districts across Nassau County, water suppliers, environmental advocates and other concerned organizations, the letter stresses the importance of waiting until the Independent Sustainability Study is completed before considering whether the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) should approve the permit request.

“Our drinking water supply is a precious and finite resource, not just here on Long Island, but across the country and across the world,” Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. “We must stand together as the guardians of that resource as it is threatened by a proposed plan that would reopen 68 dormant groundwater wells causing a massive drain on our water supply system that would have devastating effects.”

Spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo, this science-based study will determine if drawing tens of millions of gallons of water a day beyond its current use for Long Islanders will cause saltwater intrusion or draw toxic plumes into the Lloyd Aquifer.

“Long Island cannot afford the ambiguity surrounding the impacts of pumping 68 million gallons more water per day from our already strained and stressed aquifer,” Germain said. “We must continue to fight to prevent the DEC from issuing this permit until the study data is available. New York City has other options. We do not.”

The coalition intends to continue to be fierce stewards of Long Island’s drinking water, ensuring it is managed based on independent scientific research.

For the past 50 years, Residents Forward has been dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of life on the Port Washington peninsula. Ensuring its fresh water supply remains clean for generations to come is, of course, one of the organization’s highest priorities.

For more information about the Aquifer protection initiative and other Residents Forward efforts, contact Germain at 516-767-9151 or info@pwresidents.org.

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Debbie Greco Cohen is the manager of Greco Integrated Communications, serves on the executive board of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce and is a contributing writer to Port Washington News.

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