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Water quality a top concern at environmental forum

Growing concerns over water quality on Long Island -- from rising nitrogen levels to medications flushed down toilets and widespread use of some pesticides -- were a common theme at State Sen. Kenneth P. LaValle's (R-Port Jefferson) recent annual environmental forum.

About 60 elected officials, environmentalists and representatives from public and private groups met in Riverhead to discuss changes that should be made to improve water quality. No specific new bills were discussed, but forum co-host and State Assemb. Fred W. Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said some of the topics could possibly lead to state legislation.

Friday's two-hour discussion covered deer overpopulation, funding the safe disposal of medications and other topics.

Neil Lewis, executive director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, said carbon monoxide detectors, which sound an alarm when dangerous levels are detected, should instead blink when any level is detected, and trigger an alarm only when the concentration gets potentially dangerous.

County Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said it might be time to start looking into alternates to existing cesspools in much of his district, where many homes are too far apart to build efficient sewage treatment systems.

"You're not going to sewer the East End," he said.

Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, said existing work in the State Legislature on water quality on Long Island was due, in large part, to previous environmental forums.

"The legislature's immersion in the Long Island water quality issue is clear evidence that these forums work," he said. "This came up last year, and we have a foundation bill in front of the legislature."

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