Kai Olson-Sawyer of GRACE Communications Foundation just informed me that GRACE's video on Long island's groundwater - Long Island's Drinking Water -- Challenges and Solutions - has won the 2012 AWWA's Water Education Video award.
Last April I posted on GRACE's work on Long Island, which gets all of its drinking water from groundwater. I have since learned from Kyle Rabin at GRACE that some groups on Long Island are looking to developing a regional governance/management authority - a great idea - local control by professional water managers.
A coalition of environmental, civic, academic, good government and water professionals has met for the past five years to research how Long Island can secure effective, professional water management. Our proposal: to establish the same approach to water management that 70 percent of the rest of New York already enjoys. Professional managers would oversee the quality and quantity of the water in our aquifers, to ensure that our supply is sustainably used and protected far into the future.
Beyond Long Island, New York State relies primarily on surface water -- using the 76,000 lakes, rivers and reservoirs on the other side of Long Island Sound. Three river-basin management agencies, known as "compacts," manage those major supplies.
They are an excellent model for Long Island. Instead of organizing an agency based on river basins, however, we would organize ours according to where our water is stored: the aquifers beneath Nassau and Suffolk.
An aquifer management agency would protect and maintain the groundwater, our one source of drinking water. The agency's staff, with public input, would develop short- and long-term management plans, study groundwater supply, develop a comprehensive bicounty regional and sub-regional computer model to analyze parts of Long Island at risk from saltwater intrusion or pollution, and evaluate ways to improve aquifer protection. It would also define the sustainable amount of water that can be used without depleting streams or causing saltwater intrusion.
The cost for these services would be about equal to the price of one cup of premium coffee per person per year, based on annual pumpage, and could be added as a usage fee on water bills.
As a Long Island native (West Hempstead) I hope to be involved in this process in some small fashion.
"Alex Prud'homme closes his book [The Ripple Effect] predicting that because most communities have not yet run out of water, they will continue to take it for granted through waste, contamination and mismanagement. Let's make Long Island an exception." - Sarah Meyland, from her Op-Ed