Nassau County Urged to Restore Water Test Funds

Or: what you don’t know can’t end up on your tax bill… until the next generation has to figure out what they’re going to drink.

From Water for Long Island:

(Oyster Bay, NY) – A group of organizations and concerned citizens known as Water for Long Island gathered at Friends of the Bay to publicly call for Nassau County to finally reinstate funding for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) monitoring of the County’s water resources.

In 2010, the County terminated its contractual partnership with the USGS and a continuous historical record of 60 years or more, for some sites, was broken.

In September 2013, the County announced it would partner with local water suppliers for a one-year restoration of funding for 2014. The USGS has yet to receive the funds.

“Without the scientific data provided by the US Geological Survey, there is no way to make the necessary decisions and take the necessary actions for protecting the very precious, vital, vulnerable water we rely on. Renewal of the Nassau County-USGS partnership is a no-brainer. It is essential if we are to assure adequate water quality and quantity in the years ahead,” said Paula Blum on behalf of Nancy Rosenthal and Jane Thomas, Co-Presidents of the League of Women Voters of Nassau County.

“Nassau County is jeopardizing its ability to protect our groundwater with ongoing scientific and comprehensive data collection by not partnering with the USGS,” said Rea Schnittman, concerned citizen.

“Looking at what people are willing to pay for gives us a good idea of what they value. Using this indicator, it would appear that Nassau County can’t think very highly of the need to monitor its water resources. For the second time in a decade, Nassau County terminated its partnership with the USGS allowing a hole in the annual groundwater data collected for the county to grow larger and larger. Now, time is running out to get the USGS in the field for 2014 in order to collect some of the important water data that is obtained only once a year. Since high quality information and good science are essential for good policy, action is needed now to fix this critical problem,” said Sarah Meyland, Director, Center for Water Resources Management at NYIT.

“The USGS monitoring helps provide a picture of how Long Island’s dynamic aquifer system is functioning,” said Bill Stegemann, Conservation Chair of Sierra Club’s LI Group. “That information forms the foundation for protecting the groundwater supply. Nassau County needs to follow through with funding.”

Gerald A. Ottavino, Co-chair of Point Lookout Civic Association’s Environmental Committee was adamant saying, “Nassau County’s ‘No Data – No Problem’ approach to water management is imprudent. Further delays and excuses are totally unacceptable, and must end now. The partnership between Nassau and the U.S. Geological Survey must be renewed at once so the status of our groundwater and aquifer system may be assessed scientifically and publicly reported.”

Sandra D’Arcangelo of the Coalition of Nassau Civic Associations (CONCA) cautioned, “The Water Wars could start soon. New York City is redeveloping their groundwater wells in Queens without much public discussion or environmental impact studies. Without a renewed partnership with the US Geological Survey to monitor its groundwater and assess the state of its aquifer system, Nassau will not have the scientific data necessary to protect its already dwindling water supply.”

Nassau’s 1.3 million residents are totally dependent upon groundwater for their drinking water. The absence of monthly and yearly water information collection will affect the accuracy of water modeling, and other types of evaluations such as annual water table maps, stream flow and discharge volumes, recharge, water quality and many other parameters that are critical to evaluate the status of the water resources of the region and to help plan for the future.

The annual funding cycle for the USGS began October 1, 2013. Funding should have been in place so that the USGS could resume its full-scale operations, essential for our understanding of local and regional water conditions.

Water for Long Island urges Nassau County and its partners to reestablish the annual comprehensive water monitoring program with the USGS.  An appropriation of approximately $150,000 will reinstate this essential program. The County and its water industry partners – the Long Island Water Conference and Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners Association – should finalize the contracts with the USGS immediately so monitoring, testing and assessment may recommence at once.

About Water for Long Island:
Water for Long Island is a grassroots organization dedicated to working with water suppliers, government, community, environmental groups, academic institutions, and individuals to advance effective groundwater and water supply management on Long Island. Groups and individuals involved include the following: Center for Water Resources Management at NYIT; Conservation Board of the Village of Lloyd Harbor; Friends of the Bay; Coalition of Nassau Civic Associations; East Norwich Civic Association; League of Women Voters (Nassau County, East Nassau, Suffolk County, Huntington); LI Drinking Water Coalition; North Country Garden Club; North Shore Land  Alliance; Point Lookout Civic Assoc.; South Shore Audubon; The Sierra Club, LI Group; and Laurie Farber, Barbara Sullivan Parry, and Rea Schnittman as individuals.


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