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. Long Island's aquifer system was designated by the US EPA in 1978 as one of the first four Sole Source 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 water use rate at approximately 100 gallons per person per day. Per capita water use in the summer can reach to 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 40-50 years. This is due to the fact that Long Islander's live on top of their water supply. As we develop and change the land, we also release chemicals and waste that slowly migrates through the soil and into the groundwater.
To protect the only source of drinking water we have, it 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.
When Long Island is 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 is confronted with so many different yet substantial problems representing both water quality and water quantity issues.