In response to Professor Brinkmann’s April 6th editorial letter “Our approach to water is all wrong”, the Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners’ Association (NSWCA) concurs that our public water supply aquifer is a precious natural resource requiring constant vigilance to ensure long-term sustainability. However, several references used in Professor Brinkmann’s editorial are not accurate comparisons of the situation regarding our sole source water supply.
First, the Long Island aquifer is in fact managed by one agency. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has complete authority over all local water suppliers with regard to withdrawal. The NYSDEC approves all well permits and receives monthly reports from all suppliers.
Second, in addition to the NYSDEC, an Aquifer Commission was formed in 2013 by both the Nassau and Suffolk County Legislatures to study Long Island’s aquifer and to furnish a report. This commission, called LICAP (Long Island Commission for Aquifer Protection), consists of a panel of experts from county health departments, public water suppliers, the Long Island Water Conference, Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners’ Association, the USGS, Suffolk County Water Authority, Environmental Advocates and appointees from elected officials.
Third, the reference to southern California’s water situation is not relevant since it compares Long Island to a desert-like region with entirely different conditions. The Texas and Florida examples are similarly inaccurate. Neither has such a widespread aquifer system with recharge rates comparable to that of Long Island. In fact, in both of those hot climates, the pumping season is much longer than ours.
A fair representation would be to compare water rates of those communities with Long Island rates. In most cases, Long Island’s water rates are lower by nearly half.
As stewards closest to the source of Long Island’s water, we do agree that water conservation is imperative to long term sustainability. In addition, we maintain that the prime focus needs to be on the protection of our vital Long Island Aquifer system and the treatment and elimination of contamination.
President, Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners’ Association