Residents Forward Aquifer Committee submits policy recommendations to state Department of Environmental Conservation

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Residents Forward's Western Nassau County Aquifer Committee submitted recommendations to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. (Photo courtesy of Residents Forward)

Consisting of water suppliers, government representatives, scientists and environmentalists, the Western Nassau County Aquifer Committee (WNCAC) has been working for the past five years to collectively strengthen Long Island’s voice within the state in an effort to protect Long Island’s aquifers, our only source of drinking water.

The committee was spearheaded and continues to be led by Residents Forward. This long-standing environmental advocacy organization is determined to ensure that Port Washington residents have safe drinking water, now and for future generations.

During a July 22 meeting, the committee developed a list that focuses on the overarching policy recommendations that are the most critical for Long Island’s groundwater management.

These key recommendations, which were submitted in a letter to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Region 1 Director Carrie Meek Gallagher, are:

  • Preparation for climate change and sea-level rise;
  • Island-wide conservation;
  • Emergency management/sharing resources;
  • Track annual pumpage across all uses;
  • Improve recharge to aquifers;
  • Sustainable development and water allocation;
  • Water usage and protection enforcement;
  • Water demand management pricing for conservation;
  • Water re-use;
  • Groundwater quality;
  • Improving sewage effluence quality;
  • Recharge to and withdrawal from the Lloyd Aquifer.

WNCAC is calling on the state Department of Environmental Conversation to create these policies using findings from the $6 million sustainability study underway, including water budgets by county, aquifer and sub-watersheds; recharge and withdrawal; recharge for Lloyd aquifer, including locations, time; condition variables; location of saltwater interface; 20-year water table elevations correlated with recharge and outflow; predictions on responses to maximum and minimum withdrawals based on varying annual precipitation and water district-mandated policy reductions, scenarios based on new water demands and water user groups; modeling for current well sites and moving wells away from saltwater boundaries; artificial recharge scenarios; impacts of superfund remediation; quantify all water users; improve recharge; and assess impact of groundwater sourced geothermal systems.

The Aquifer Committee’s letter to Meek Gallagher strongly recommended that a resource management plan is in place by the beginning of 2020 and asked for monthly updates on its progress.

“We are committed to using the science that is being revealed by the sustainability study to shape robust Long Island drinking water policies,” said Residents Forward Executive Director and leader of WNCAC Committee Mindy Germain said. “It is our job to stop the mistakes of the past and set up Long Island for the future. We are working with every level of government to move this goal forward.”

Residents interested in urging the state Department of Environmental Conservation to proceed immediately to develop an actionable, science-based plan to protect our groundwater for generations to come may write to: Carrie Meek Gallagher, Region 1 Director, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, SUNY at Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409. Residents Forward can be reached for more information, including how to get involved with this critical initiative at 516-767-9151 or info@pwresidents.org.

Submitted by Residents Forward. 

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