The Suffolk County Water Authority Board on Monday approved a plan to finance a first step in seeking to gather data on current agricultural practices used on farms within the 25-year capture zone of SCWA’s North Fork public supply wells.
The pilot project, which will be conducted by Cornell Cooperative Extension in the vicinity of the SCWA well field on Middle Road in Peconic, will serve as one component in a long-term plan for continuing to supply safe drinking water to North Fork residents. The goal is to reduce the impacts on groundwater from pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used in agricultural production.
“Currently, 27 out of 56 Authority supply wells on the North Fork are on treatment for pesticide-related contamination,” said SCWA Chairman James F. Gaughran. “As the equipment needed to filter out these chemicals is extremely expensive, it’s in the best interest of our customers to take whatever steps are possible to reduce the amount of these chemicals entering the aquifer system.”
Cornell will seek to gather information from area farmers about crops being grown, products used on these crops, storage and handling of the products and annual irrigation. As agriculture is exempt from pesticide reporting requirements, there is no other way to obtain such information.
The Suffolk County Water Authority is an independent public-benefit corporation operating under the authority of the Public Authorities Law of the State of New York. Serving approximately 1.2 million Suffolk County residents, the Authority operates without taxing power on a not-for-profit basis.