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Letter: History of NYC tapping Island wells

Partially treated sewage continues to pour into Reynolds

Partially treated sewage continues to pour into Reynolds Channel from the Bay Park Plant. This view is looking west, toward Atlantic beach. (Nov. 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Doug Kuntz

New York City's proposal to pump Long Island's groundwater is not the first time this issue has come up ["NYC plans to reopen wells," News, Feb. 24].

In the 1880s, Brooklyn faced the same need to find additional water sources because of increased population, indoor plumbing and the proliferation of steam engines. The solution was to build a conduit from Massapequa to downtown Brooklyn while tapping into lakes, reservoirs and deep wells along the route.

Over the objections of the oyster industry, the plan went ahead and was finalized in 1891, with the construction of the Milburn Pumping Station in Freeport. Soon after pumping began, the water was deemed foul to smell and taste.

Pumping soon ceased, and the entire project was placed into emergency reserve until 1977, when it was abandoned.

However, the damage was done, and the oyster industry was ruined forever. How does that saying go? "Those who forget the past . . . ."

Gary Quilliam, Freeport