By Lisa W. Ott, President and CEO, North Shore Land Alliance
This blog is one in a series focused on the impact of environmental organizations––supported by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation––who are on the front lines of our nation’s water quality issues. This series highlights their important work.
There is increasing recognition that Long Island’s water is perhaps our community’s most precious, and possibly most vulnerable, resource. Still, many Long Islanders are unaware that the source of their drinking water is the aquifer under their feet. At the North Shore Land Alliance, we believe water quality is the most critical issue facing Long Island today, and we focus our efforts on preserving the land that preserves our water.
It’s critical Long Islanders understand that what we do at the surface affects the quality and quantity of the water that lies below. Our organization’s mission is to protect, in perpetuity, the green spaces, farmlands, wetlands, groundwater and historical sites of Long Island’s north shore for the enhancement of quality of life and enjoyment and benefit of future generations. We work to educate community members and local students about the benefits of protecting and conserving land, and we advocate for more effective land and water conservation practices.
From a quality perspective, stormwater runoff and nitrogen pollution are huge issues on Long Island. When natural lands are developed, they are often replaced by impermeable surfaces. Water hits these surfaces, especially paved surfaces, very quickly in severe storms. That leaves no time for water to be absorbed into our sole source aquifer. Instead, it travels from the highest to the lowest point in the watershed (our ponds, beaches and bays), picking up all kinds of harmful pollutants along the way. Our fresh water is being used far faster than it is being regenerated.
However, there is hope. Conserving natural land areas plays a vital role in preserving our water supply. These open lands provide the natural infrastructure that is integral to maintain the health of our waters. If we all work together, we can help reverse the problem.
Learn more about our work.