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Letter: Water bill made major omissions

Kara Hahn, chair of the Suffolk County legislature's

Kara Hahn, chair of the Suffolk County legislature's Environment, Planning & Agriculture Committee, introduces herself to Antonio Nasuto, executive for IBM's operations in central and eastern Europe, and a member of the IBM team that will help Suffolk County with its nitrogen pollution problem. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

I agree that Long Island's myriad water issues are far too acute and critical to ignore any longer ["New momentum to save LI's water," Opinion June 22]. But the Long Island Water Quality Control Act bill, which failed to pass the State Senate, contained two crucial flaws.

Whether because of a lack of funding, dearth of personnel, paucity of talent or other factors beyond its control, the state Department of Environmental Conservation's groundwater policy and oversight are virtually nonexistent on Long Island. Among other issues, DEC has neither been engaged with nor even commented on the saltwater intrusion that will result in western Nassau when New York City reopens its Jamaica wells, roughly, in 2020.

Given this history, what makes bill advocates and Newsday's editorial board think DEC would effectuate any of the bill's mandates or responsibilities?

The second flaw is that the bill targeted nutrient and pesticide quality problems in Suffolk County -- an unquestionable necessity -- while ignoring groundwater issues and quantity problems threatening both counties. This certainly didn't exemplify the comprehensive Long Island water plan it purported to be. In fact, it circumvented Nassau's biggest water problem, which I dare say is the seminal cause of most of the other problems imperiling the Island's groundwater: utilities over-pumping the aquifer and refusing to adhere to DEC pumping restrictions.

Gerald Ottavino, Point Lookout

Editor's note: The writer is the co-chair of the Point Lookout Civic Association's environmental committee.