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Letter: Don't create more water bureaucracy

A chemist with the Suffolk County Water Authority

A chemist with the Suffolk County Water Authority prepares a quality control standard for testing drinking water. (September 15, 2013). Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Long Islanders enjoy one of the world's most coveted natural resources, an aquifer that provides clean, abundant water. This precious commodity is one we can never take for granted, and it must be protected at all costs.

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), are sponsoring a bill to create the Long Island Water Quality Commission ["Villages assert control," News, Jan. 31]. Under its provisions, the state Department of Environmental Conservation would be directed to prepare a comprehensive water quality and protection plan. Once adopted, the plan would supersede local land use and zoning laws, ordinances and regulations.

The intent is commendable; however, the bill would create yet another level of bureaucracy. More concerning, it would violate the state constitution, which grants zoning powers to towns, villages and cities. The bill would transfer power over future "human development activity" to an appointed commission. This group would dictate to locally elected officials what is best for their communities and decide what can be built or developed.

This bill is unnecessary. Agencies already exist to review water quality and supply issues -- the DEC, Environmental Protection Agency, state and county health departments, and local planning agencies. Wetlands and runoff are strictly regulated. Water quality is tested regularly and results are published. Water issues also are integral parts of environmental impact studies required for any significant development.

To protect and preserve our drinking water, local elected officials need more state resources, not more bureaucracy.

David E. Tanner, East Williston

Editor's note: The writer is mayor of East Williston and president of the Nassau County Village Officials Association.


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