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Letter: Brown tide not fault of septics

Long Island's septic systems have been named as a source of polluting nitrogen that causes brown tide ["Trouble blooming on LI's waterways," News, Oct. 23]. If this is true, it may be necessary to spend billions of dollars to replace or upgrade the current waste handling systems.

Before we commit massive resources to this problem, we should first test this hypothesis. If it were possible to prevent polluted groundwater from entering our bay, would the brown tide cease to bloom? This test has already been done.

The flow of groundwater that carries nitrogen from septic systems into our bays is controlled by rainfall. Because almost no rain has fallen on the South Shore since the last week in September, groundwater and the nitrogen that is carried by it have been drastically reduced.

A natural variation in rainfall has given us the test to determine the effects of reducing nitrogen in our bays. However, the result does not confirm the hypothesis. The reduction of nitrogen from septic systems did not eliminate brown tide. I believe the reduction caused brown tide.

Most algae are important to a healthy ecosystem, but brown tide is not. What causes brown tide? Years of research have confirmed that brown tide has a competitive advantage over other algae when groundwater nitrogen is low, not high. Why then are we aiming to reduce it?

Roger C. Tollefsen, Hampton Bays

Editor's note: The writer is president of the New York Seafood Council, which represents the seafood industry, including harvesters and processors.

Dismayed over shore rebuilding

When will we come to grips with global warming?

Homes built too close to the ever-rising oceans continue to be rebuilt in the same places, albeit higher and higher. The government is now giving an average of $112,000 to these homeowners to help them continue to live in homes which, no doubt, will be flooded again and again ["Cash coming to LI," News, Oct. 16].

Ocean Parkway was damaged by a minor nor'easter. It will be ravaged again and again. Fire Island will one day be uninhabitable. It is time to face the facts: We are not stronger than the storm.

We need to adapt. We need to move farther inland. The state and federal governments cannot be responsible for giving large amounts of money to homeowners so they can have good views from their living room windows.

Wasn't Sandy a big enough wake-up call? When will we learn that Mother Nature is in charge?

Preston F. Holod, Rockville Centre

Use cameras to stop motorcycle packs

There are so many traffic and weather cameras installed on Nassau and Suffolk county roads, I would hope that the police departments have access to them ["LI cops targeting more aggressive motorcyclists," News, Oct. 21].

The cameras are another tool to monitor packs of motorcycles. I saw two groups of such riders the week of Oct. 14 on the Southern State Parkway. By the time I reached for my phone to call the police, they were out of sight.

Christine Gietschier, Westbury

Tax credits for school scholarships

The proposed Education Investment Tax Credit ["Interfaith appeal," News, Oct. 18] would allow tax credits for donations to public or private schools. This not only would help public schools, but keep private and religious schools open by helping low-income students get a good education at a far lower cost.

Parental choice in education is one of the few ways we help both the poor and the taxpayers. School taxes are at least 60 percent of property taxes, and in Port Washington, a public school teacher with a master's degree can earn as much as $133,300 after 25 years, plus benefits. I estimate that benefits are an additional $35,000 annual cost to taxpayers.

Most religious schools educate children for half the per-pupil cost of public schools.

We pay Medicare taxes and can choose my hospital. We all pay school taxes. Why can't parents be free to choose any accredited school for a child? Even if we limited this scholarship credit to half the amount we pay per public schoolchild, taxpayers would still save money every year. It's a win for everyone except teachers unions.

Frank J. Russo Jr., Port Washington

Editor's note: The writer serves on the executive committee of Long Islanders for Educational Reform.

Smaller tax increases better than one large

The residents of Nassau County have short memories ["Mangano up in exec rematch," News, Oct. 13].

Under Thomas Gulotta's stewardship, for 14 years, the mantra was not to raise taxes. Costs continued to rise, but Gulotta did not raise taxes.

When Thomas Suozzi became county executive in 2002, he was forced to raise taxes to cover the increased costs and get us out of the fiscal mess he inherited.

Now, we have Edward Mangano following in Gulotta's footsteps -- he hasn't hiked taxes, but he did raise fees. No one wants to see higher taxes, but it would be better to see a small increase each year than a large one after several years of no increases.

Kathleen Flandorffer, Merrick


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