PROTECT OUR WATERS
PROTECT OUR WATERS
Nitrogen loading in the ground and surface waters of Suffolk County is a longstanding problem that threatens the area’s natural ecosystem and, by extension, its economy. The pollution problem stems in part from the fact that the population of Suffolk County, now about 1.5 million, grew sharply over the past several decades despite the absence of proper infrastructure. About 74 percent of the county’s residents rely on septic tanks and cesspools rather than municipal treatment plants. Most of those systems were built before 1972. The nitrogen-rich sewage leaches into the aquifers, which connect to the region’s surface water, its rivers and bays and the Long Island Sound.
According to the county’s water resources management plan the impact of nitrogen pollution has been most severe in the Great South Bay. The bay once produced more than half the clams eaten in the United States, but over the past quarter-century, the harvest has fallen by 93 percent. Overharvesting was once a problem, but the clam population has failed to recover because of recurring algal blooms.
Nutrient pollution has diverse and far-reaching effects on the economy, impacting tourism, property values, commercial fishing, recreational businesses and many other sectors that depend on clean water.
Nitrates and algal blooms in drinking water sources can drastically increase treatment costs. For example, nitrate-removal systems in Minnesota caused supply costs to rise from 5-10 cents per 1000 gallons to over $4 per 1000 gallons.
Sag Harbor is a resort economy. Nationally the tourism industry loses close to $1 billion each year, mostly through losses in fishing and boating activities, as a result of water bodies that have been affected by nutrient pollution and harmful algal blooms.
Fishing and shellfish industries are hurt by harmful algal blooms that kill fish and contaminate shellfish. Annual losses to these industries from nutrient pollution are estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
Clean water can raise the value of a nearby home by up to 25 percent. Waterfront property values can decline because of the unpleasant sight and odor of algal blooms.
We in Sag Harbor are beginning to do our part. In February of 2017 Trustee Ken O’ Donnell and I joined with members of our Harbor Committee, neighboring municipalities, and a group of concerned residents to raise donations to fund the first ever permanent water testing in Sag Harbor. In March of this year the village board voted unanimously to mandate innovative / alternative septic systems. I am currently investigating the viability of extending our sewage treatment plant (STP) service areas. Our STP is by far our best resource for nitrogen reduction, often matching the concentrations found in groundwater. We have achieved some success but we a have a lot more to do to protect our waters.
I am Aidan Corish and I am asking you for your Trustee vote on June 18th. Thank you.
SAG HARBOR UNITED!