Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine wants Suffolk County and the towns that border Lake Ronkonkoma — his own, Islip and Smithtown — to work together to reduce nitrogen pollution in the lake. His plan is to replace cesspools with new septic systems for the restrooms at four public parks on or near the lake.
It’s a good idea. But there have been lots of good ideas and efforts from many civic groups and others to restore Lake Ronkonkoma. And the lake continues to suffer. Summer closures are common. Lack of cooperation at times has been an issue. Follow-through from Romaine will be important, especially in getting other local governments and civic groups to make this a priority.
There are local models for how to do that. The committee that led the cleanup of Northport Harbor brought together nonprofit organizations, boaters, civic groups and all levels of government — federal, state, county, town and village. When everyone works with each other, everyone becomes responsible and accountable. Lake Ronkonkoma and its watershed are one of County Executive Steve Bellone’s priorities for water-quality improvements. Legis. Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) has been working on several initiatives. It’s time to put all this together, develop a comprehensive plan, and finally nurse one of Long Island’s natural gems back to good health.
Lake Ronkonkoma is Long Island’s largest freshwater lake, and a long-ago summer resort. But cesspools and failing septic systems, road and storm-water runoff and geese droppings have poisoned it. Cleansing the lake would mean a lot, symbolically and in reality. — The editorial board