Don’t Sacrifice Long Island’s Clean Water Supply

For the past several years, New York City has been maneuvering to infiltrate Long Island’s clean water supply. The NCVOA has been vigilant in ensuring our drinking water remains safe and abundant. The following letter opposing New York City’s plan was written by then-NCVOA President Peter Cavallaro.

Don’t Sacrifice Long Island’s Clean Water Supply

by Peter Cavallaro, mayor of the Village of Westbury and president, Nassau County Village Officials Association

As Long Islanders, we are extremely fortunate. We have outstanding schools, excellent colleges and universities, a highly skilled workforce, and close proximity to Manhattan. We also enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, pristine parks and nature preserves, and an abundant supply of clean drinking water. Together, they create a quality of life not easily duplicated.   

But we are facing a real threat to one of our most precious natural resources that could have a catastrophic impact on the quality of life for our future generations.

The Lloyd aquifer is the oldest and deepest of three underground aquifers that supply abundant, clean water to Long Island’s 2.8 million residents.  Lying along the bedrock far below the surface, the Lloyd is considered by many geologists to be our purest water source and has been protected from contaminates that have seeped into the higher aquifers known as Upper Glacier and Magothy.  The significance of the Lloyd was recognized by the State of New York decades ago when, in 1986, it imposed a state moratorium prohibiting all but coastal communities from drilling new wells. The Department of Environmental Conservation is empowered to grant exemptions in the event of an extreme hardship, but that has never occurred.

But a plan to penetrate the Lloyd is being advanced by New York City and the Bethpage Water District. To ensure its residents have additional access to clean drinking water, New York City is attempting to reopen some of its closed wells in Queens.  The Bethpage Water District once again is requesting an exemption to the moratorium to obtain an additional water supply. 

These two efforts have attracted widespread media attention. Opposition is mounting daily as environmental groups, professional geologists, other water districts, state and local legislators, and other municipalities including Nassau County’s 64 incorporated villages are joining together to prevent what many believe would be irreversible damage. New York State Assemblyman Steven Engelbright, a geologist and longtime environmental champion, has been the most vociferous local state lawmaker leading the fight in opposition.

To allow the Lloyd to be unnecessarily infiltrated would be irresponsible. The DEC must continue to be vigilant in protecting this critical Long Island resource.