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:

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(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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Nassau Civic Groups Oppose LNG Port

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CONCA, (The Coalition of Nassau Civic Associations), the largest association of Nassau County civic associations, to which Point Lookout Civic Association belongs, has come out against the Port Ambrose LNG Terminal off our shores.

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Their letter to the Regulators:

(On CONCA letterhead to the Maritime Administration)

Dear (Maritime Administration):

The Coalition of Nassau Civic Associations (“CONCA”) is comprised of multiple civic associations, representing hundreds of thousands of respective resident-taxpayers, located in Nassau County.
CONCA is writing this letter to oppose Liberty Natural Gas and its plan to build a deepwater liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) facility, called Port Ambrose, 19 miles off the south shore of Nassau County; and is doing so for the following reasons:

First is climate change. Due to global warming, severer weather events are being forecasted for Nassau County, and more frequently. Keeping in mind Nassau’s south shore is still struggling to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, situating Port Ambrose less than 19 miles south of Nassau County would stress communities to the breaking point if the facility was damaged by another extreme storm.

Second is security. In recent weeks, LNG facilities in Yemen were reportedly on Al Qaeda’s target list. Port Ambrose’s proposed location is at the entry of New York Harbor. Given the U.S. Coast Guard’s drastic funding and personnel cuts, this poses a security threat to the entire region. Simply, Nassau County’s southern coast could not be assured adequate protection if reassigned USCG vessels were forced to undertake the full-time job of guarding LNG tankers coming in and out of NY Harbor.
If there was a terrorist attack on Port Ambrose or the facility was damaged by an extreme storm (or otherwise ruined), the domestic natural gas currently feeding Long Island would be severely compromised, possibly causing Nassau residents and businesses to lose their entire supply.

Third is intent. Perhaps of greatest concern is not that Liberty intends to import natural gas to Long Island; but rather the technical ease in which it can convert Port Ambrose from an import to an export facility; requiring only written permission, but neither a public hearing nor comment period. In addition, the process of liquefying our domestic natural gas has become conveniently simplified in recent years, to the point where it can be effected on board ship.
Like water, natural gas is a local, natural resource. Also, our supply is not infinite. It is indeed limited; and should neither be owned nor mined by a foreign company to be sold outside the U.S. CONCA’s concern is Liberty will hasten domestic depletion at the expense of current and future generations. And, as the demand for natural gas grows overseas, exportation is sure to increase as well. Already, licenses have been issued to export 40% of all the natural gas mined in the United States. The bitter irony is as overseas energy markets profit, Nassau will not reap any of the benefits, financial or otherwise. In fact, by depleting our own inexpensive, domestic supply, we will be increasing its price here on Long Island. Evidence shows exporting natural gas will increase the cost to heat our homes, as foreign energy enterprises reap massive profits overseas.

Fourth is hydrofracking, which CONCA deems an environmental death sentence. Given natural gas is in great demand and will fetch much higher prices overseas, the Energy Information Administration has already predicted record setting production rates; and the most financially expedient way to satisfy this accelerating demand is hydrofracking, the fastest and cheapest method of mining the resource. If NY State were to lift its current ban on hydrofracking, this would, in effect, free the energy companies, allowing them free reign to contaminate the land; pollute ground and drinking water; and change the State’s landscape forever. And, since they will require a terminal to export the gas, the Port Ambrose facility will satisfy their needs and facilitate their ambitions, including justifying over-mining the resource and advancing hydrofracking in NY State.

Lastly, alternatives to fossil fuels must be aggressively pursued to assure our future welfare. Advancing natural gas production for sale in foreign markets is not in the best interest of Nassau County nor the Country.

Therefore, CONCA, on behalf of the multiple civic associations and myriad resident-taxpayers it represents, requests the Maritime Administration deny Liberty Natural Gas any and all permits to construct Port Ambrose off the south shore of Nassau County.

Respectfully submitted,

Philip Franco, President

Town of Hempstead (Officially) Authorizes Army Corps Plan

TOHNot to be outdone by Long Beach, The Town of Hempstead has beat them to the punch and become the first municipality to officially Authorize the Long Beach Island Storm Damage Reduction Project.

from the Town of Hempstead:

Hempstead Town Leads the Way on Long Beach Island Storm Protection Project, First Muncipality to Authorize Plan

Reaffirming its longstanding support for a major coastal protection measure for residents who live on the Long Beach Barrier Island, Hempstead Town today became the first local municipality to authorize the Long Beach Island Storm Damage Reduction Project. The project, which will build up local shoreline dunes and erect a system of groins to protect homes on the Long Beach Barrier Island from major storm damage, will be overseen by New York State and the federal government. In order for the project to commence, local municipalities including the Town of Hempstead, Long Beach and Nassau County must “sign-off” on the project.

“Hempstead Town has been unwavering in its support of the storm damage protection plan for well over a decade,” stated Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray. “It’s gratifying that we continue to lead the way as the first locality to ‘sign-off’ on the project, and we encourage other governments to follow our pro-active agenda to protect area homes, businesses and people from flooding and other storm damage.”

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Supervisor Murray and Councilwoman Angie Cullin called upon the federal government to finalize a required project report and complete needed “plans and specs” in order to make the project “shovel ready”. The officials’ plea for action on December 11th was followed-up by a January 27th Point Lookout joint rally with Murray and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, demanding Congress’ approval of Sandy emergency recovery funding, including full-financing for the Long Beach Island Storm Damage Reduction Project. Indeed, the Senator announced on March 12th that all costs associated with the storm damage reduction project would be picked-up by the federal government.

“Hempstead Town will continue to push forward in full support of the Long Beach Island Storm Damage Reduction Project,” said Murray. “Councilwoman Cullin and I thank Senator Schumer for securing the needed funding for it to proceed.”

In the aftermath of the Superstorm, Hempstead Town began dredging sand from the ebb shoal of Jones Inlet, and pumping it onto storm-ravaged beaches in Point Lookout. Only weeks after the storm, the town’s Conservation and Waterways team began repairing breaches in the townships’ dune structure, the last line of defense against surging Atlantic seawater.

This most recent work continues Hempstead Town’s long-standing commitment to protecting local homes and businesses. Over the course of several decades, the town built dunes, erected snow fencing, planted beach grass and built stone revetments (bulkheads) – all in an effort to protect against storm damage and combat coastal erosion. A December 12, 2012 New York Times article observed that Hempstead Town hamlets of Point Lookout, Lido Beach and East Atlantic Beach weathered Sandy’s wrath better than Long Beach because of Hempstead Town’s pro-active dune building program. Hempstead Town bolstered its beach protection project after the City of Long Beach declined to “opt-in” to the Long Beach Island Storm Damage Reduction Project many years ago.

“We are dedicated to protecting our neighbors on the barrier island,” said Cullin. “This project will enhance the town’s storm protection efforts.”

“The Long Beach Island Storm Damage Reduction Project is essential to the protection of residents who call the barrier island home,” concluded Murray. “We’re proud to be the first local government to authorize the project, and encourage other localities to follow our lead.”