L.I. is desperate for a water-management plan

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Until the mid-20th century, Long Island was a collection of small farming and fishing communities unconcerned about depleting their vast water supply. Then, after World War II, came suburbanization. Now Long Island is heavily developed –– many say overdeveloped –– and we need every drop of water we can get. If Long Islanders draw out water faster than rain falls, then the aquifers dry up.

In May, the State Assembly proposed the Long Island Water Quality Control Act, which calls on the state Department of Conservation and the Department of Health to enact a “complete Long Island Water Resources Management Strategy” by Jan. 1, 2017. The DEC and DOH would be required to work with regional planning and development boards when creating the plan, which would have to account not only for today’s water needs, but also for future needs.

The Assembly passed the act on June 18 and sent it to the Senate for ratification. The Senate has yet to pass a companion bill. Before the legislative session ended on June 19, the measure was referred to the Senate Rules Committee, but went no further.

Long Island needs a water management plan so that all of our many suppliers act according to one set of established guidelines that would, we hope, prevent New York City from taking our water.

Beside establishing a management plan, the Water Quality Control Act would accomplish other important goals. It would:

• Require new automatic sprinkler systems to be equipped with rain sensors that would shut them down when adequate rain had fallen. How many times have you seen a sprinkler spraying away amid a downpour? It’s just plain wasteful.

• Require the Nassau and Suffolk county health departments to study pesticide use on Long Island and file a Comprehensive Pesticide Evaluation Report by Dec. 31, 2015, to determine where and how pesticides are used and overused, and whether they are threatening our aquifers. From there, pesticide management plans could be developed.
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