The Water Resources of Long Island are finite – they are not unlimited. If the water supply is truly treasured, Long Island must move now to establish the needed controls to protect and manage water for today and the future.
The aquifer system beneath Long Island is being affected by water quality and water quantity problems. For Nassau County, the pollutants of concern are: VOCs (volatile organic chemicals), nitrates and spill derivatives such as gasoline and MTBE. Although the sewers of the county led to a problem of consumptive water use, the sewers have provided protection of water quality.
In Suffolk County, the pollutants of concern are: nitrates, VOCs, pesticides, gasoline derivatives such as BTEX and MTBE, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons from gas plants, PPCPs (pharmaceuticals and personal care products) and perchlorates. With only 25% of the county sewered, a substantial loading of nitrates into the groundwater has occurred. High nitrate levels threaten both good drinking water quality and the health of coastal waters that are highly sensitive to nitrogen. Once nitrates are part of the coastal groundwater underflow into Long Island’s estuaries, it is nearly impossible to remediate this loading.
If these conditions are left unaddressed, it is very possible that the good water Long Islanders now take for granted will be lost.