Threats & Solutions
Adrienne Esposito
Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the
Environment
&
Bob DeLuca
President, Gr...
Where Does Long Island Get Drinking Water?
Where does LI get our drinking water?
Long Island is a sole-source aquifer region, which means we residents rely on
ground...
Summary Position
From Draft Comprehensive Plan Introduction of 12/7/2010
“Much of the County’s ground and surface water re...
Summary Findings – Nitrates
Septic, Sewage Plants, Fertilizers
Nitrate pollution is largely due to human settlement
Negati...
Summary Findings – Nitrates
Septic, Sewage Plants, Fertilizers
“Sanitary wastewater management is the most important
facto...
Summary Findings – Nitrates
Septic, Sewage Plants, Fertilizers
Fertilizers are “a significant source of Nitrogen in the aq...
Key Goals of Comp. Water Plan
Nitrogen should be reduced to the greatest extent
feasible and practical for the protection ...
Critical Conclusion
“A very basic, but essentially important policy question looms for Suffolk
County.”
“At the completion...
The 3 most frequently detected
VOCs:
Tetracloroethene (PCE)
Trichloroethene (TCE)
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
Volatile Org...
Volatile Organic Chemicals
VOCs used in the most common products of HHW were
found at high concentration in the Magothy Aq...
VOC (PCE) were present in 4x more wells than in 1987.
Levels of TCE increased 150%
Volatile Organic Chemicals
Household Hazard Waste (HHW) refers to any
commonly found household items with the potential
to ignite, cause a violent ch...
Detected in 330 public supply
wells in SC from 2000-2005
Detected in 16% of raw
groundwater samples collected
from all sup...
Long Island Pesticide Use Management Plan: A Decade Overdue
Under development since 1998, the goal
of the plan is to prote...
Extensive investigations have identified 117 pesticides
in drinking water.
The Top 3 pesticides found in drinking water in...
The NYSDEC documents 117 pesticides in our groundwater. We need to
work to ban the top 3 most detected: Atrazine, Metalaxy...
Detected 890 times in 179 locations.
Has been found in concentrations as high as 407 ppb
(Standard 50ppb).
Can be found in...
Detected 1,327 times in 546 locations
Fungicide that leaches in sandy soils
Linked to kidney and liver damage
Toxic to bir...
Detected 124 times in 51 locations
Banned in European Union in 2004 because of
persistent groundwater contamination.
Most ...
Pharmaceutical drug contamination in our
groundwater, rivers, estuaries, and bays is an emerging issue
throughout our stat...
Emerging Contaminant: Pharmaceutical Drugs
In 2002, USGS and US Department of the Interior partnered
with the Suffolk Coun...
What We Can Do
1. Properly dispose of pharmaceuticals at take-back
programs - don't flush!
Suffolk County Take Back Progra...
Ban the top 3 pesticides on Long Island
STOP using toxic pesticides and fertilizers on
lawn and in gardens
Do not pour chemicals, oils, grease down the
drain- Use STOP days!
Stop Throwing
Out Pollutants
Use less hazardous products—such as
green cleaning products
Preserve Open Space!
Long Island's Drinking Water:  Threats and Solutions
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Long Island's Drinking Water: Threats and Solutions

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Two of the charter members of The Long Island Clean Water Partnership, The Citizen's Campaign For The Environment, and The Group For The East End, offer this overview of the state of Long Island's waters -- what is polluting them and what we can do about it. The CCE's Adrienne Esposito and the GFTEE by Bob DeLuca.

Long Island gets its drinking water from the ground. Whatever we do on the surface eventually makes it into the aquifer, and into our drinking water, our rivers and bays.

The largest issue is nitrates from septic tanks, from the 200+ small sewage treatment plants, and from fertilizer, both residential and commercial leaching into the ground water, and then to our bays, where they trigger massive algal blooms -- brown tide, red tide, rust tide, blue green algae. These blooms have already destroyed much of our bay's habitats, resulting in a collapse of the shellfish and finfish population. To reverse this situation, we must impose much stricter limits on how much nitrogen can enter into our ground water from the plants, farms, and from the 500,000 septic tanks that dot Long Island.

Another major threat to Long Island water is VOCS (volatile organic chemicals). While there are 254 superfund sites on Long Island, the largest source of these VOCs are household products -- cleaners, paint strippers, aerosols. 100,000 tons of household hazardous waste is disposed of improperly every year in New York.

A further threat is the 117 pesticides now found in our drinking water. Even when banned, they remain in our environment for decades.

Finally, the improper disposal of household pharmaceuticals means that these drugs are entering into our ecosystem, with effects unknown. We must stop flushing or throwing out unused prescriptions, but dispose of them only at designated county locations.

In all, there are a number of things we can do now to help LI become sustainable for future generations: Push for new technologies and new policies that would limit nitrogenous waste from our septic and sewer systems. Stop using high nitrogen lawn and agricultural fertilizers. Dispose of your household waste properly. Any chemical you use at home will end up in the ground water unless disposed of properly. Don't pour oils, grease, and chemicals down the drain. Use green, friendly home cleaning products.

Finally, since the major contributor to Long Island's water problems has been overdevelopment (without the requisite infrastructure to support it), we need to protect what green spaces we have left.

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Long Island's Drinking Water: Threats and Solutions

  1. 1. Threats & Solutions Adrienne Esposito Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment & Bob DeLuca President, Group for the East End Long Island’s Drinking Water
  2. 2. Where Does Long Island Get Drinking Water?
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. Summary Position From Draft Comprehensive Plan Introduction of 12/7/2010 “Much of the County’s ground and surface water resources continue to meet the water quality criteria established to assess resource suitability for its best intended uses.” “Nevertheless, the data also shows a continued and gradual decline of water quality. Unfortunately, these concerning trends identify the need for increased water protection efforts at the County level (ES-1) .”
  5. 5. Summary Findings – Nitrates Septic, Sewage Plants, Fertilizers Nitrate pollution is largely due to human settlement Negatively impacts groundwater, marine & freshwater ecological resources. Nitrate levels are increasing in all Long Island aquifers Total Upper Glacial Public Supply Wells – up by 40% (4.34 mg/l) Total Magothy Public Supply Wells - up 200% (3.4 mg/l) Deeper supply wells now used to reach cleaner water 1/3 of private wells tested exceed nitrate targets (4-6 mg/l) Approximately 10% exceed 10 mg/l MCL threshold
  6. 6. Summary Findings – Nitrates Septic, Sewage Plants, Fertilizers “Sanitary wastewater management is the most important factor affecting nitrate levels throughout most of the County.” Many sewage plants (STP’s) reduce nitrates, but SCDHS faced recent “challenges” getting nitrate compliance from STP’s Proliferation of smaller plants more difficult to monitor & maintain 1MM Suffolk residents use 340,000 on-site wastewater systems Nitrate reduction very limited & highly variable (10-50%) 60% of residential properties in Suffolk do not meet minimum lot size to achieve Article VI drinking water protection goals <10mg/l
  7. 7. Summary Findings – Nitrates Septic, Sewage Plants, Fertilizers Fertilizers are “a significant source of Nitrogen in the aquifer” Agriculture is “a major source of Nitrogen contamination” Nitrogen varies depending upon the crops grown Row crops 13.4 mg/l Vineyards 5.1 mg/l Suffolk Fertilizer Ban (12/1- 4/1) – Effective 2009 Imposed to foster less aesthetic use of fertilizers residential turf Program assessment due 2014
  8. 8. Key Goals of Comp. Water Plan Nitrogen should be reduced to the greatest extent feasible and practical for the protection of current and future drinking water supplies and the ecological functions of streams, lakes, estuaries and marine waters. Groundwater Nitrogen inputs in the County’s surface waters should be reduced consistent with the goals of the Long Island Sound Study, Peconic Estuary and South Shore Estuary Reserve Programs, to protect, preserve and restore the estuaries
  9. 9. Critical Conclusion “A very basic, but essentially important policy question looms for Suffolk County.” “At the completion of the prior Comprehensive Plan in 1987, and for years thereafter, Suffolk County was proud to be in the forefront nationally of groundwater research, investigation, and protection programs.” “In view of recent economic difficulties confronting all municipalities, will the County of Suffolk have the ability to commit technical staff and resources necessary to plan and implement the water protection strategies and recommendations developed by this plan for the next several decades.”
  10. 10. The 3 most frequently detected VOCs: Tetracloroethene (PCE) Trichloroethene (TCE) 1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA) Volatile Organic Chemicals These are found in a range of products including: • paint strippers, • office supplies, • aerosols • cleaning products
  11. 11. 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.
  12. 12. VOC (PCE) were present in 4x more wells than in 1987. Levels of TCE increased 150% Volatile Organic Chemicals
  13. 13. Household Hazard Waste (HHW) refers to any commonly found household items with the potential to ignite, cause a violent chemical reaction, be a dangerous corrosive, or be harmful to human health. The average person accumulates 6 pounds of household hazardous waste per year, and every year over 100,000 tons of this waste is disposed of improperly in New York. Household Hazardous Wastes
  14. 14. Detected in 330 public supply wells in SC from 2000-2005 Detected in 16% of raw groundwater samples collected from all supply wells. Detected in 10% of private wells, with 1.4% exceeded drinking water standard of 10ppb. MTBE
  15. 15. 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
  16. 16. Extensive investigations have identified 117 pesticides in drinking water. The Top 3 pesticides found in drinking water include: Imidacloprid Atrazine Metalaxyl Pesticides
  17. 17. 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).
  18. 18. Detected 890 times in 179 locations. Has been found in concentrations as high as 407 ppb (Standard 50ppb). Can be found in 100’s of products. Used on lawns, turfs, golf courses, farms, pets, in households. Can leach quickly through soils, contaminating groundwater Toxic to fish and crustaceans. Pesticides-Imidacloprid
  19. 19. Detected 1,327 times in 546 locations Fungicide that leaches in sandy soils Linked to kidney and liver damage Toxic to birds Pesticides Metalaxyl
  20. 20. Detected 124 times in 51 locations Banned in European Union in 2004 because of persistent groundwater contamination. Most widely used herbicide in US, 76 million lbs applied each year. 2009 NY Times article: potential cause of birth defects, low birth weights, and menstrual problems when consumed at concentrations below federal standards. 2010 study: 75% of male frogs sterile & turned 1 in 10 male frogs to females. Pesticides-Atrazine
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. 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.
  23. 23. What We Can Do 1. Properly dispose of pharmaceuticals at take-back programs - don't flush! Suffolk County Take Back Program: In the first 4 months 800 lbs of drugs collected! Nassau County Take Back Program Suffolk County Law
  24. 24. Ban the top 3 pesticides on Long Island
  25. 25. STOP using toxic pesticides and fertilizers on lawn and in gardens
  26. 26. Do not pour chemicals, oils, grease down the drain- Use STOP days! Stop Throwing Out Pollutants
  27. 27. Use less hazardous products—such as green cleaning products
  28. 28. Preserve Open Space!

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