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Letter: Nassau water districts over-pump

Irrigation wheels water a sod farm in Mattituck

Irrigation wheels water a sod farm in Mattituck during a dry spell, May 20, 2015. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

The report that New York City has shelved reopening of Queens wells that share water with Nassau is excellent news for the county ["NYC and wells: Take a clear look," Editorial, June 1]. But just because the city has backed off doesn't mean the county's water worries are over.

Nassau's most serious water problem is the continued overpumping of the aquifer. This self-inflicted wound has been slowly depleting the system's limited water supply.

At the Long Island Water Conference's 2014 Water Quality Symposium in October, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that saltwater had migrated further under the Island than the agency had anticipated. When asked about the cause, the officials said the only possible reason is overpumping. Whether or not the county and its recently resuscitated Water Resources Board want to acknowledge it, this overpumping is threatening Nassau's drinking-water supply.

Overpumping is documented in the county's 2005 Department of Public Works report: Groundwater Reports 2000-2003, which disclosed that Nassau's water suppliers, on average, pumped 193.5 million gallons a day during these four years, while the safe withdrawal maximum was 185 million gallons a day.

An even more damaging year was 2010, when Nassau's average pumping swelled to 203 million gallons per day. Just like a bank account, aquifer integrity cannot survive large deficits for very long without harm.

The county must end its road to self-ruin and get its groundwater operations under control. In this regard, the Water Resources Board still has a crucial job to perform.

Bill Stegemann

West Islip

Gerald Ottavino

Point Lookout

Editor's note: The writers are, respectively, the conservation chairman for the Sierra Club's Long Island Group and the co-chairman of the environmental committee of the Point Lookout Civic Association.


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