CONSERVATION & ENVIRONMENT
Long Island’s unique character and culture derive from its rich and vibrant agricultural and maritime history. The region’s parks, farms, and beaches provide substantial economic and recreational benefits to the region, support a multibillion-dollar tourism industry, and represent what Long Islanders most value about their way of life. Yet, Long Island’s aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for the region’s 2.8 million residents, and surface waters are in trouble.
Over-development, antiquated wastewater systems, and human activity (pollution, over fertilizing, over fishing) continue to degrade groundwater, surface water, and marine life demonstrated by the numerous beach and fishing closures and fish kills – more than 100 bodies of water on Long Island have been classified as impaired by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In addition, high levels of nitrogen, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and pharmaceuticals have been found in ground water.
In addition, the region’s unplanned growth and suburban sprawl have resulted in diminished open space and a loss of farmland. Limited energy alternatives, inadequate transportation options, and a proliferation of polluted brownfields further harm the natural resources that are distinctive of Long Island.
On Long Island:
- In TWO of Long Island principal aquifers, the Upper Glacial and Magothy, nitrogen levels in groundwater INCREASED dramatically; 40% and 200% respectively.
- Over 120 active pesticide ingredients have been found in the groundwater system.
- More than 100 of Long Island water bodies are on EPA’s “Impaired Waters List” as a result of POOR water quality.
- Long Island has LOST a 1/4 of its farmland, once boasting 45,000 acres, it has since gone down to 34,000 acres.
- Over 10 million pounds of pesticides are applied on Long Island annually.
- Long Island has 6,800 brownfields – the most in New York State.