Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Friends of the Bay, Group for the East End, Vision Long Island, the Sierra Club, Sustainability Institute, and the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, are calling upon the Department of Environmental Conservation to protect Long Island’s drinking water by calling for zero tolerance for pesticides in drinking water and to ban the three most prevalent pesticides.  The DEC has compiled alarming information regarding the presence of toxic pesticides in drinking water in the Draft Long Island Pesticide Use Management Plan (LIPUMP).  It is imperative that DEC use the findings in this plan to act swiftly and ensure protection of drinking water for now and future generations. 

The groups are calling for the DEC to take two immediate actions to protect drinking water by strongly urging the DEC to adopt a zero tolerance policy in the LIPUMPA zero tolerance policy will offer the strongest protection for LI’s drinking water and stop the continuance of pesticide contamination to the aquifer system.  DEC needs to take immediate action on the compiled data and move swiftly to ban the three most frequently found pesticides. These include the immediate ban of  atrazine, metalaxyl, and imidacloprid from use on Long Island.

“What we currently have in place is a plan to poison our water, we need a plan to protect our water.  The myriad of pesticides in our drinking water are remnants of a toxic legacy that started decades ago. Long Island’s groundwater will continue to be contaminated for years to come unless the DEC steps up and does what the public is calling on them to do; adopt a zero-tolerance plan for pesticides – now. We only have one aquifer; that means only one chance to get this right.” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“Drinking water protection is of the upmost importance to our island and the public. It is the DEC’s responsibility and obligation to prevent contamination of this essential resource and thereby prevent public exposures to toxic chemicals. The data in the LIPUMP is alarming and calls for greater protective actions so that the water supply can be sustainable and healthy,” said Maureen Dolan Murphy, Executive Programs Manager of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“There are dozens of things Long Island must do to improve water quality.  The banning of these chemicals represents an excellent start,” said Dick Amper, Executive Director, Long Island Pine Barrens Society.

“When the pesticide Temik was found in over 1,000 Long Island wells in 1979, we learned that local conditions can have a major impact on the fate of pesticides in our environment. Today, we face a rising level of new pesticides threats to Long Island’s drinking water and we must confront these threats with the same conviction that got Temik out of the local market nearly 35 years ago. By looking at the latest data, we can clearly see that the rising rates of  Metalaxyl, Atrizine, and Imidacloprid in our groundwater demands immediate attention,” said Bob DeLuca, President of Group for the East End.

“Government agencies that serve the public should not allow toxic contaminants in our drinking water.  Unlike over a decade ago there are sufficient organic pesticide alternatives that can meet the varying needs of residents and businesses.  Vision stands by the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and the broad based coalition assembled on this important issue,” said Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island, a Smart Growth planning organization.

“Here on Long Island, we have a multimillion dollar fishing and shellfishing industry, as well as a recreational tourism industry based upon the health and beauty of our coastal waters.  The harmful impacts of pesticides on the health of estuaries and wetlands is well documented. Sailors and boaters contribute millions to our economy.  Our property values are some of the highest in the nation, and those values rise the closer a home is situated to the shoreline.  We cannot afford to ignore or minimize the importance of healthy marine ecosystems on the regional economy, just as we must act to protect the water supply for human health,” said Pat Aitken, Executive Director of Friends of the Bay.

“With each peer reviewed study we are closer to understanding the causes of cancer. This is another important opportunity to use a precautionary approach. As we reshape environmental policy we need to use the precautionary principle as a guiding tool,” said Karen Joy Miller, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc. Prevention Is the Cure Campaign.

“With the Shinnecock Canal just to our west, one could say that the South Fork is an island on Long Island.  Between development, septic systems, leachate from landfills, pesticides, fertilizers, industrial spills and leaks, our aquifers are increasingly degraded.  The times demand powerful legislation and an unwavering coordinated effort to protect our irreplaceable water resources.  After millenniums of water purity, in the space of half a century we’ve wrought escalating damage to the potable water that’s the cornerstone to our health and to our economy.  East Enders and Long Islanders demand real and immediate commitment to solutions that are within our grasp.  We can’t wait,” said Julie Penny, South Fork Groundwater Task Force.

“The risk of using toxic pesticides that have been shown to contaminate Long Island’s sole source aquifer is unacceptable. Not only do safer alternatives to pesticides exist, but they also have proven effective and are growing in market share,” said Demosthenes Maratos, Program Director of Long Island Neighborhood Network.

“The safest way to protect Long Island’s drinking water from pesticides is to ban the use of products containing chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health problems,” said Laura Haight, NYPIRG’s senior environmental associate.  “We all have the right to clean drinking water.”