News Feature | May 15, 2015

Water Contamination Crisis Looms Over Long Island

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

A water crisis may hit Long Island in the coming months.

"A new report says excessive lawn watering and pesticide runoff from homes is threatening drinking water, bays and harbors" on the island, according to CBS. "The report says nitrogen is increasing at an alarming rate and is now charged as public water enemy No. 1."

Sarah Landale, the director of planning for Suffolk County and the author of the project, said this is a "historic moment" for water quality on Long Island. The "long-awaited study of surface and ground water documents an 80 percent increase of nitrate concentrations in the aquifer below Long Island since 1987," CBS reported.

The source of Long Island's drinking water makes the issue urgent. "Long Island is an EPA-designated sole source aquifer, which means that all county residents receive their drinking water from the groundwater under their feet," according to the Grace Communications Foundation, a public health and environmental advocacy group.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone noted that this puts the island in a difficult position. “Water is everything to us on this island. It is our quality of life, our recreation, our economy,” he said, per CBS. “The water we drink is beneath our feet. If we are not protecting our water quality, we cannot have a prosperous future.”

The island's water quality was so shoddy last year that IBM offered free consulting work to help improve it. Newsday reported, citing Lansdale: "The consultants will help identify areas to upgrade to sewer lines or smaller wastewater systems and develop financing mechanisms to pay for it."

To read more about source water contamination, visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solution Center.