The Nassau County Legislature on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to create a Long Island Commission on Aquifer Protection, a joint Nassau/Suffolk initiative that would assess threats to the sole source aquifer that provides our drinking water and recommend measures to protect it for future generations. The Suffolk Legislature approved companion legislation in October.
The action by the two Legislatures means that the commission—which would be compromised of representatives of Nassau and Suffolk water suppliers, as well as the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Nassau and Suffolk County Health Departments and United States Geologic Survey, among others—could hold its first meeting within weeks. The focus of the group would be to address groundwater issues facing both counties and to chart a coordinated approach to solving the issues identified. The idea for the commission was formulated by Suffolk County Water Authority Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey W. Szabo and championed by Suffolk Legislator William Spencer, Nassau Legislator and Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves and the Long Island Water Conference.
“We’re delighted that the Nassau Legislature joined the Suffolk Legislature in supporting this worthwhile initiative,” said Szabo. “The commission will embrace an island-wide approach to aquifer protection, an essential component to the successful management of our most vital natural resource.”
According to Szabo, the work performed by the commission could serve as the scientific underpinning for any board or agency formed at a later date with the power to enact protections of the aquifer system.
LICAP plans to meet at least quarterly, or more often if agreed to by its members. Members will receive no salary or compensation for their services. The commission will be required to provide a “State of the Aquifer” report within one year of its first meeting, and provide annual updates to the report. The commission will be required to hold at least one public hearing per year in each county to solicit information necessary for the report from members of the public and organizations involved in groundwater research, management and advocacy. Additionally, within three years of the issuance of the report, the commission will be required to issue a Groundwater Resources Management Plan.
The commission will also establish two standing committees, the 2040 Water Resources and Infrastructure Subcommittee and the Water Resource Opportunities Subcommittee to identify long-term and short-term risks to groundwater resources.
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.