On Long Island, we have a federally-designated sole source aquifer. Aquifer means “water bearing rock” and refers to underground soil and rock formations that store and carry groundwater. Having a sole-source aquifer means that 2.8 million Long Islanders in Nassau and Suffolk counties rely on groundwater beneath our feet for safe and clean drinking water.
Our groundwater is continually flowing from high ground to low, is recharged by rainfall, and supplies most of the fresh water entering our rivers, bays and harbors. Our drinking water and surface waters share a vital connection: groundwater.
We rely on our groundwater for drinking, cooking and bathing as well as swimming, fishing and boating. A safe supply of clean drinking water and surface waters creates a desirable way of life for 2.8 million Long Islanders.
Science conclusively shows that water quality on Long Island is declining. The problem is nitrogen pollution from sewage and fertilizers, pesticides, toxic chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs that are increasingly present in our groundwater and which pose serious threats to our environment, quality of life, economy, health and safety. The biggest source of nitrogen pollution is sewage from aging cesspools and septic systems. Over 70% of homes in Suffolk County have individual cesspools or septic systems.
Fortunately, we can fix this problem, but we need public policy that will ensure improved water quality on Long Island and protection of our groundwater aquifers well into the future.