Long Island is facing a water pollution crisis. Nitrate pollution in our water is very likely due to overuse of fertilizers and sub-par wastewater treatment. If you live on Long Island, this problem will affect you.
Drinking water is a big concern. Most of Long Island's drinking water comes from underground reservoirs, not rivers, which makes our water source much more susceptible to pollution from fertilizers and septic systems. Too much nitrate in drinking water poses issues for the human body, making it harder for the blood to carry oxygen. This is extremely dangerous for infants, but can also cause issues for adults.
Toxic algae that are fueled by excess nitrogen in the water can also affect people. Some studies have linked cyanobacteria that grow in nitrogen-polluted water to different health risks, from allergic symptoms to nausea and other bowel-related problems. Eating shellfish from waters that have been tainted can also cause disease. Other areas with nitrogen-polluted water have reported more serious health problems, even death, caused by cyanobacteria. No one on Long Island has died yet from cyanobacteria, but the problem does exist here, as a dog's death in East Hampton is said to have been caused by cyanobacteria. It is actually commonly acknowledged that dogs can and will die from swimming or playing in fresh water areas that have become toxic due to cyanobacteria growing in the water.
Even if you won't be directly affected, this issue could be very problematic for your neighbors, your town, your job, your children, or your pets.
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Last year, Governor Cuomo passed legislation to invest $2.5 billion into clean water infrastructure. Many of these funds will be directed towards Long Island: $388 million will be used in a sewage initiative in Suffolk County, $6 million will be used to fund a study of the groundwater resources across LI, and New York will be working with Nassau County about treated sewage coming from the Bay Park treatment plant that has been affecting local bays.
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Last year, Governor Cuomo announced a plan to help restore the shellfish populations across Long Island, investing $7.25 million into shellfish hatcheries. The hope is that by investing in hatcheries, this effort will strengthen the economy, create new jobs, and ensure cleaner waters. SUNY Stony Brook and the Cornell Cooperative Extension will be overseeing these hatcheries, while also preforming research in order to gather data for future restorations.
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Last year Governor Cuomo announced a plan to improve New York's water infrastructure. What does this mean for Long Island? Nearly $27 million in grant funds will be directed to helping improve the water infrastructure in Suffolk and Nassau counties. Also, this project will create over a thousand new jobs across Long Island.
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A dangerous situation has arisen at Moriches Inlet: an estimated 250,000 cubic yards of accumulated sand is causing issues for boaters trying to navigate this busy waterway. At times, the marked channel has only one foot of water. However, this seemingly emergency situation is receiving no emergency dredging. In fact, many other dredging projects are being prioritized over Moriches Inlet, as it carries less commercial tonnage than other channels.
This dire situation has already caused boaters many problems, from running aground to capsizing.
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The New York Sea Grant Institute has published an excellent summary of why and how dredging windows can and should be expanded.
See the full summary at the link below:
Members of Smithtown Bay Yacht Club and the Stony Brook Yacht Club are advocating for dredging where the Stony Brook and Porpoise Channels merge. Boaters are extremely concerned by the shallow waters in their waterways. During low tides the channel can get as shallow as one foot deep. The increasing concern for safety has prompted many locals to press for dredging in the local channels.
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Many boaters are concerned with the dangerously shallow waters of Sea Dog Creek.
Read their thoughts on the forum below:
Local fishermen were extremely concerned for their own safety and the safety of other boaters as the channel leading from Accabonac Harbor to Gardiner's Bay increasingly became smaller and shallower as sediment built up from the lack of dredging. Their intense worries led to the East Hampton Town Trustees agreeing to dredge the channel in March of 2017. The dredging was a success and will hopefully lead to more dredging plans in the future.
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What is dredging? What does it mean for our waterways? Dredging is the removal of sediment from waterways to increase the safety of boaters and to help protect the environment.
To learn more, read the following article published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
Towards the end of 2016, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone approved a $2.1 million plan to fund dredging in county waterways. Read the full article below: