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Water Quality & Aquifer Protection

The Long Island aquifer system is the principle source of drinking water for Long Islanders. It is designated a Sole Source Aquifer and receives special Environmental Protection Agency protection.

Currently, the Long Island aquifer system is threatened by over-development. As land is developed, contaminants are introduced into the environment and can end up in rainwater runoff that enters the drinking water supply. Compounding this, development removes trees, grass and soil that reduce runoff by collecting and storing rainwater.

Three large aquifers are underneath one of its rarest ecosystems. The Central Pine Barrens are Long Island's largest contiguous, undeveloped area of pinelands. In addition to being home to rare plants and animals, the Pine Barrens are the recharge area for the Long Island aquifers. Although the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act protects much of this area in perpetuity, rainwater runoff resulting from nearby development can contain any of 67 contaminants that could enter the system.

In addition, other East End towns such as East Hampton and Shelter Island and the unincorporated hamlet of Amagansett rely on even more ecologically fragile aquifers that are in danger of being seriously compromised by overdevelopment.

In order to protect Long Island's aquifer system and surface waters, NYLCV calls on local governments to:

  • Develop, fund and implement a comprehensive plan to protect sensitive aquifer recharge lands for preservation in perpetuity through purchases and gifts of land and conservation easements.
  • Ban the use of non-organic pesticides and fertilizers in sensitive aquifer recharge areas.
  • Intensify efforts to increase conservation easements, development rights transfers, and land conservation through acquisition and donation.

We also call on the Suffolk County government to significantly improve its commitment to open space preservation by extending and reconfiguring the county's Quarter-Percent Drinking Water Protection Program and increasing funding for programs that restore and manage the land and water resources throughout Suffolk County.


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