Hauppauge, NY - January 29, 2014 - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone outlined the county’s water quality crisis and answered questions in a teleconference Monday night that drew over 9,700 residents.
Citing a Suffolk County's Comprehensive Water Resources Management plan released this past week that identified nitrogen pollution of ground and surface waters as the number one threat to public health and safety, Bellone said dealing with the problem is the top priority of his administration.
“Water is at the heart of everything on Long Island. The water underneath us is water we drink every day. We have been polluting this precious resource; causing negative trends. For the health of the region today and future generations and we must reverse these trends,” Bellone said.
Nitrogen pollution has been systematically undermining our coastal wetlands. After the barrier beaches, our critical second line of defense against storms like Sandy are our wetlands and they have been devastated by nitrogen pollution in our water. The only way to restore those wetlands and rebuild those marshes and get back them to vibrant state is to get at the heart of the pollution that is undermining them.”
Bellone answered residents’ questions that ranged from the need to educate people about the hazards of pesticide and lawn-care chemicals to sewer districts, to plumes of pollution affecting Suffolk County waters another 157 questions or comments were left on voicemail.
A poll of participants taken during the call showed that 93 percent said that water quality was very important to their families’ lives.
Bellone made these points:
1) Nitrogen is the number one threat to Suffolk County's ground and surface waters.
2) Nitrogen is polluting our aquifers, our sole source of drinking water here on Long Island.
3) Nitrogen pollution of our waters threatens Suffolk County's public health and safety.
4) Nitrogen is decimating our wetlands and marshes, killing off our last natural line of defense against storms like Superstorm Sandy.
5) Nitrogen is polluting our bays, rivers and waterways, killing off sea life and threatening the future recreational use of our world class beaches.
6) Polluted waters have already destroyed a once booming clamming industry and threatens to destroy our multi-billion dollar tourist industry.
7) Poor water quality hinders our potential for future economic development throughout the county
Also taking questions were Dave Kappell, a consultant of the Rauch Foundation, Dave Calone, chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, Walter Dawydiak, acting director of Suffolk County Office of Environmental Quality, and representatives of the departments of health, public works and economic development.
Bellone said he plans a sustained public education campaign to inform Suffolk County residents of the scope of the problem. For information and updates log on to: https://www.facebook.com/SuffolkCountyExecutiveStevenBellone.