Coalition demands restored funding for aquifer monitoring

Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg, announces his candidacy for Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg, announces his candidacy for the State Senate on March 6, 2014, at the American Legion Post in Seaford. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

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A coalition of environmental and civic groups joined a Nassau County legislator Wednesday in demanding that the county immediately restore funding for a monitoring program for the region's aquifer system.

Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) and the coalition, Water for Long Island, met in Oyster Bay to call on Nassau to start funding the U.S. Geological Survey's groundwater and streamflow monitoring program.

The program is used to determine groundwater levels and collect data on water quality and other aspects of the county's drinking-water system.

"Good policy is based on good science, and right now the science is missing," said Sarah Meyland, director of the Center for Water Resources Management at the New York Institute of Technology, and a coalition member.

The USGS stopped collecting the data in Nassau after the county dropped the program to cut costs in 2010.

The federal agency was able to restart part of the program last year with funding from the Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners' Association, said Ron Busciolano, supervisory hydrologist in the Coram program office of the USGS New York Water Science Center.

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This year, the agency is negotiating with that association, in addition to the Long Island Water Conference and Nassau County to fund the full program, which would cost about $350,000 a year, Busciolano said. He added that USGS would match 30 percent of the cost.

Michael Martino, spokesman for the Nassau County Department of Public Works, said the department has negotiated a new contract with the USGS for about $140,000 a year. The contract will be presented to the county legislature this spring, he said.

"It sounds good, but I want to see the contract," Denenberg said.

Michael Levy, chairman of the Long Island Water Conference, which consists of water suppliers, manufacturers and other groups, said his organization planned to contribute $20,000 to the program.

"That data is critical," Levy said of the study. "Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, there are holes in the data over the last decade in Nassau County. That's why we want to see more consistent funding -- to benefit everybody that utilizes the aquifer system."

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