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The 2015 Groundwater Symposium, December 4th, presented by Water For Long Island (WFLI), (of which the League is a member) was a dialogue on groundwater protection and management for the Long Island region with a focus on considering how a Long Island compact would work. In attendance were several hundred concerned citizens, political leaders and experts in the field.

The featured speaker was Pamela M. Bush, J.D., Delaware River Basin Compact board member. The Delaware River Basin Compact is a compact of four states, the Federal Government USGS and New York City. She stated that it is a collective management of water resources designed by equitable apportionment in a 1931 US Supreme Court Decree. The compact sets up diversion limits, flow targets and excess release of water. Water supply must be fairly allocated and be efficient with use. In conclusion, she said, “water conflicts are not solved, just managed.”

Mindy Germaine, Port Washington Water Commissioner and Executive Director of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington introduced Christopher Schubert of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) whose presentation covered salt water intrusion, improved remediation, and ways of reducing water waste and improving water quality.

Stan Carey, Superintendent, Massapequa Water District, discussed the History of Slow Action and Failure to Protect Public Water Supply Wells with the Grumman plume, the largest toxic plume on Long Island. Mr. Carey clearly delineated the decades long efforts to clean up and mitigate the plume, the continual growth of the plume heading towards the Great Bay, and the cost to clean up the plume.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern spoke of recent legislation that defines regional planning and the aspects that are required for that planning. He introduced Robert Carpenter from the Long Island Farm Bureau. Mr. Carpenter discussed the role agriculture plays in the region, the uses of water, the sustaining practices of the farmers, the use of integrated pest management, and the importance of supporting all the efforts for the limits and protection of water.

The Q&A session was moderated by Sarah Meyland. NYS Senator Steve Englebright said the legislature must pass legislation starting with the assembly. With sea level rising and its implications, he noted that “our water is in a dynamic state of change.” He also mentioned funding and the Federal Government. Mr. Carey noted that the compact needed to be self-supporting and Independent. Ms. Bush stated that L.I. water suppliers should maintain their own systems, use USGS data, coordinate saltwater intrusion, improve remediation, reduce waste and improve quality. She said that the compact needs to partner with the DEC, decide on well permitting responsibilities and advocate for water.

Water for Long Island aims at creating a regional entity with funding power. The conversation needs to be about WATER and a massive public campaign to put conservation into the public’s mindset regarding access to clean water. It should not be a struggle for the next century. It is a struggle for right now.

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