Long Island: An Environmental Update for 2016

March 24, 2017No comments

A lot happened in 2016 in the environmental field and Long Island is one of the places making news. Below is a summary of the main developments and initiatives.

Water Quality

A. LINAP

Last year saw the launch of the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan (LINAP), a joint project of NYSDEC, the Long Island Regional Planning Council (LIRPC), Suffolk and Nassau counties and other stakeholders, funded with a $5 million grant in the New York State Budget for 2015-2016.  LINAP’s stated goals are to study the impact of nitrogen on surface and groundwater, set nitrogen load reduction targets, and recommend strategies to meet those targets. The project comes at a time when toxic algae blooms, fish kills, dead zones of low oxygen, and threats to drinking water are becoming a serious concern in many coastal areas. These problems are caused in large part by excessive levels of dissolved nitrogen in the water, which come from fertilizer runoff, sewage treatment plant effluent, and private cesspools and septic tanks. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that more than two-thirds of homes in Suffolk County and 10 percent in Nassau are not connected to public sewers. The cesspools do not filter out nitrogen and other nutrients, but rather release them directly to the surrounding soil and groundwater.

The final scope of LINAP was published in June 2016. It includes an Early Action component to be completed within 12 to 18 months or by the first quarter of 2018. The idea is to assemble existing data and modeling, address near-term management agement strategies, identify tiered priority areas, estimate preliminary load reduction goals for surface waters and for public water supply wells, review wastewater alternatives, and prepare a draft wastewater plan.

Stakeholders participating in LINAP include all local municipalities, public water suppliers, environmental groups, agricultural, trade and civic associations, and federal, state and tribal representatives.

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