July 11, 2017 -- Long Island is facing a very serious threat to the future of its drinking water, said Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton in a press release issued late last month. That is, the Glen Cove Democrat explained, if a recent application by the City of New York for a permit to re-open wells in Queens is approved allowing for 30 million gallons or more a day to be pumped from an aquifer that supplies western Nassau County. Saltwater intrusion and toxic plume migration are very possible, which could in turn render our only source of water undrinkable for centuries, she said.
At a June 21st hearing on the issue hosted by Nassau County Legislature, elected officials, water suppliers and organizations submitted a joint letter and offered testimony to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) warning of the dangers of re-opening the Queens wells and urged the agency to allow a Groundwater Sustainability Study to be completed before any decisions are made regarding their reactivation. The study is assessing possible dangers of plume migration and saltwater intrusion if high volumes of water are pumped from the aquifer under the Queens wells.
“We will continue to do everything in our power to prevent these wells from opening to protect our only water supply, said Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton. "They have alternate options. We do not.”
Last year, Governor Cuomo announced the funding for a $6 million dollar regional groundwater sustainability study, which will provide the Department of Environmental Conservation and others with better tools and understanding of groundwater science, especially regarding water quantity and saltwater intrusion.
"This is a great start, but it is only the tip of the iceberg," said Legis. DeRiggi Whitton. "A groundswell of public advocacy and writing or calling elected officials to urge them to create policy that protects Long Island’s sole source of water for generations to come is the most important thing residents can do,"
Information on water studies and other ongoing efforts to protect Long Island's sole source of fresh water can be found at waterforlongisland.org.
Caption: Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton during the June 21, 2017 hearing with the DEP.