Water for Long Island

Our Philosophy

     Long Island's Sole Source Aquifer system and the groundwater it supplies is a public resource that must be preserved and managed for the public's welfare and benefit; not exploited or impaired for private gain.

    There are many important facts that the residents of Long Island should know regarding the groundwater resources on which they rely.    

  1.   The US EPA designated Long Island's aquifer system in 1978 as one of the first four SoleSource Aquifers established in the United States, pursuant to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.  In the case of Long Island, our Sole Source Aquifer system provides 100% of the water used daily by Long Islander residents.   

  2.    In many areas, current water withdrawals from the aquifer system are approaching an unsustainable level of demand.  This is especially evident in parts of Nassau County.  Contrary to popular belief, the aquifers do not contain an unlimited amount of water nor can the aquifers support water withdrawals that push total water loss from the aquifers to levels that exceed recharge. 

  3.   The typical amount of water used per person on Long Island is above the national per capita average. We use around 130-140 gallons of water per person per day, while many studies cite the national average at approximately 100 gallons per person per day. Per capita water use in the summer can reach 400 gallons per day due to heavy irrigation practices for lawns, landscaping, and outdoor facilities such as pools and water features.

  4.   Water quality in the aquifers has slowly deteriorated over the past 50 years. This is because Long Islanders live above their water supply. As we develop and change the land, we also release chemicals and waste that slowly migrate through the soil and into the groundwater.  

To protect the only source of drinking water we have, groundwater must be wisely managed using the best scientific knowledge available.  Regulatory programs must keep up with science and apply it to prudent and effective management practices that discourage water waste and reduce pollution that can degrade groundwater quality. Across much of the U.S., single purpose water agencies provide the expertise, attention and oversight to keep regional water supplies safe and abundant.  Long Island needs a similar approach. 

Compared to the many other areas around the U.S. that also rely on groundwater, Long Island may be unique in the degree to which this aquifer system and the groundwater it stores are confronted with so many different yet substantial problems representing both water quality and water quantity issues.

To improve the outlook for groundwater quality and quantity in the future, New York must implement substantial changes to the regulation of groundwater. Unlike surface water resources in New York, which are managed by single-purpose agencies, groundwater does not receive similar protection and management.  Until a single-agency approach is taken, groundwater quality and quantity will continue to decline.