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Keeping LI's Drinking Water Safe

Local water commissioners recently met to discuss the creation of a regional management commission to protect Long Island’s aquifers, the sole drinking water source for nearly 3 million residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The Jericho Water District—which provides water to areas including Brookville, Muttontown, Jericho, Syosset and Woodbury—was represented at the Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners Association (NSWCA) meeting by Commissioner Nicholas Bartilucci.

“As the stewards closest to water production, safety, and environmental and conservation issues, the NSWCA endorses the creation of a Long Island Aquifer Commission,” said Bartilucci. “We believe it can be especially effective if the committee includes experienced, qualified representation with first-hand knowledge of the drinking water issues.”

Unlike most of the country, Long Island sits directly atop these water-containing underground formations deemed highly vulnerable to contamination by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Long Island needs to take a regional approach to our future based on scientific fact, not politics,” said Dennis Kelleher, President of Melville-based environmental firm H2M Architects + Engineers. “Our aquifer is vast, but it is threatened in numerous areas.”

Threats to the aquifer system include salt-water intrusion and toxic plumes from abandoned gas stations and industrial sites.

“We must get all parties to appreciate the importance of this aquifer,” said Kelleher, “[to] understand the daily needs of Long Islanders, and elevate the value of water in the public’s mind.”