Long Island's Drinking Water -- Threats and Solutions

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The Long Island Clean Water Coalition, formed by a group of some twenty eco-non-profits and environmental research institutions large and small have come together to to address the water quality …

The Long Island Clean Water Coalition, formed by a group of some twenty eco-non-profits and environmental research institutions large and small have come together to to address the water quality crisis now facing Long Island. Our groundwater is polluted, and therefore our drinking water is at peril. Because our ground water is polluted, so are our lakes, streams and bays. Algal blooms wiping out habitats in our bays, shellfish beds closed because of all the nitrogenous waste now in our water.

This presentation is by Adrienne Esposito of The Citizen's Campaign for The Environment. It powerfully presents the problem we as Long Islanders face, and what we can do to bring Long Island back from the brink of disaster.

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  • 1. Threats & Solutions Adrienne Esposito Citizens Campaign for the Environment Long Island’s Drinking Water
  • 2. Where does LI get our drinking water? Long Island is a sole-source aquifer region, which means we residents rely on groundwater for 100% of our drinking water. A clean, healthy aquifer system is vital to maintaining Long Islanders’ quality of life. Contamination of groundwater from improper household hazardous waste disposal negatively impacts public health, our environment and pollutes groundwater supplies. Glacial Aquifer: 10,000 years old Magothy Aquifer: 65 million years old Lloyd Aquifer: 70+ million years old
  • 3. The Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Management Plan documents an alarmingly decline in the County’s drinking and surface waters, from 1987- 2005. Contaminants include Nitrates, Volatile Organic Chemicals, Pesticides, MTBE, Pesticides, and Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products. Suffolk County Report
  • 4. Increased 200% in Magothy Aquifer 1.14 mg/l to 3.43mg/l Increased 40% in Upper Glacial Aquifer 3.12 mg/l to 4.34mg/l A continued increase in Nitrates at the moderate rate of 40% per 18 years, would result in nitrate standards exceeding human health standard of 10 mg/l by the 2050. Nitrate Contamination
  • 5. High Concentrations of Nitrates in Groundwater lead to increased nitrogen levels into our rivers, bays, estuaries. Excessive nitrogen leads to toxic tides, impaired waters, and hypoxia Nitrate Contamination
  • 6. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), a source of which are HHW, are being found with increased frequency in Long Island’s aquifers. VOCs used in the most common products of HHW were found at high concentration in the Magothy Aquifer, which is Nassau County’s main source of drinking water. Volatile Organic Chemicals- Household Hazardous Wastes
  • 7. Volatile Organic Chemicals VOCs used in the most common products of HHW were found at high concentration in the Magothy Aquifer, which is main aquifer used for drinking water. PCE was present in 4x more wells in 2005 than in 1987. Levels of TCE increased 150% In 1987, 1 well exceeded drinking water standard of 5 ug/l. In 2005- 9 wells exceeded drinking water standards.
  • 8. VOC (PCE) were present in 4x more wells than in 1987. Levels of TCE increased 150% Volatile Organic Chemicals
  • 9. Long Island Pesticide Use Management Plan: A Decade Overdue Under development since 1998, the goal of the plan is to protect Long Island’s sole source aquifer from pesticide contamination. Recently the DEC released a plant to the public that does not take action to protect drinking water from pesticides. In 2000-2001, 834 private and non-community drinking water wells were tested on LI for the frequency and co-occurrence of pesticides with other pesticides and pesticide degradates. Results: • pesticide related compounds were detected in 422 wells (50.6%) of the wells • more than one pesticide related compound was found in 323 (38.7%) of the wells • 5-9 pesticide related compounds were detected in 127 (15.2%) of the wells • 10 or more pesticide related compounds were detected in 4 (.5%) of the wells
  • 10. Extensive investigations have identified 117 pesticides in drinking water. The Top 3 pesticides found in drinking water include: Imidacloprid Atrazine Metalaxyl Pesticides
  • 11. The NYSDEC documents 117 pesticides in our groundwater. We need to work to ban the top 3 most detected: Atrazine, Metalaxyl, and Imidacloprid. Metalaxyl: Detected 1,327 times in 546 locations. Linked to kidney and liver damage & toxic to birds Atrazine: Detected 124 times in 51 locations. Banned in European Union in 2004 because of persistent groundwater contamination. Imidacloprid: Detected 890 times in 179 locations. Has been found in concentrations as high as 407 ppb (Standard 50ppb).
  • 12. Pharmaceutical drug contamination in our groundwater, rivers, estuaries, and bays is an emerging issue throughout our state, and our Nation. 41 million Americans drinking water from a source containing trace amounts of pharmaceutical compounds. In 2002, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) found trace amounts of antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80% of the water they tested. Pharmaceuticals
  • 13. Emerging Contaminant: Pharmaceutical Drugs In 2002, USGS and US Department of the Interior partnered with the Suffolk County Water Authority to complete a study on Suffolk County groundwater. Of 70 samples collected from 61 wells in the upper glacial and Magothy aquifers, 28 samples contained at least one PhAC compound. In 2002, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) found trace amounts of antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80% of the water they tested. Synthetic steroids, such as estrogens, are known endocrine disruptors. Trace amounts of these compounds are known to cause feminization, reproductive problems, and hormone system disruption in fish.
  • 14. The report analyzed 59 facilities drug disposal plans. Some of the findings include: • 51% of the facilities indicated that they flush their unused and expired controlled substances. • 25% of facilities are using a reverse distributor to properly dispose of controlled substances. • 12% of facilities take advantage of the National Take Back Program. Suffolk County Report