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Letter: 'Water War' on Nassau's border

The Bethpage water tower. (April 30, 2012)

The Bethpage water tower. (April 30, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

I read with dismay Newsday's "Monitoring program dries up" [News, May 2].

Alarmingly, New York City's recent choice to discontinue its cooperative funding partnership with the United States Geological Survey -- along with Nassau County's similar decision back in 2010 -- are only part of the whole story, albeit, a significant part.

New York City wishes to reopen water wells in eastern Queens. History has already proven that excessive withdrawal from these wells will degrade aquifer conditions in western Nassau. It was the pumping of these very same wells during the 1970s and into the 1980s that contributed substantially to saltwater contamination of the Magothy aquifer at the county's southwestern border.

City officials are keenly aware that ending the partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey will obviate potential criticism. By stymieing the public's access to scientific data and obfuscating related analysis, the city will be able to dismiss criticism as speculative conjecture. Ending the partnership also comes at a time when the Manhassett-Lakeville Water District is considering a New York City proposal to pump district water into Queens daily.

In effect, the Water Wars are at Nassau's doorstep. The county had better find an expedient way to defend its water supply.

Gerald Ottavino, Point Lookout

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