• Our Long Island Water Education Program Surpasses 10,000 Students Served

    After a pandemic year+ of postponement and a second year of remote learning (with supplies packed and delivered to schools) educator Karen Mossey finally returned to the classroom (with some interruptions!) during the 2021/2022 school year. And an exciting year this was with the total number of students served since the program’s inception surpassing 10,000. Enterprising as always and like educators everywhere faced with dramatic changes the pandemic required, Karen managed to add new school partners (Hewlett and Ogden in the Hewlett-Woodmere school district and St. James in the Smithtown school district). She nimbly adapted to remote learning. She did this by creating a video of the “build an aquifer” session and distributing a set of supplies for EACH student to the schools. Her efforts were carried out while getting her own school-age children through remote learning at home. Cheers to you, Karen, and educators all over.

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  • Water Quality Improvement Program

    Water Quality Improvement Program Update

    In November, a Sea Cliff resident successfully installed Nassau County’s first ever nitrogen-removing clean water septic system. After Hurricane Ida flooded this homeowner’s basement and collapsed the cesspool, he began research on how to upgrade to a clean water septic system. The homeowner applied for and was awarded grants from both Nassau County and New York State to supplement the acquisition and installation of the new system. When all was said and done, the homeowner paid significantly less for a clean water septic system than he would have paid for a conventional cesspool and septic tank.  It was a win-win for the homeowner’s wallet and Nassau’s water quality. For decades, the North Shore of Nassau County has been plagued by harmful algal blooms, dense invasive seaweed, fish kills and beach closures. These problems are the result of nitrogen filled wastewater leaking from septic tanks and cesspools into our waters. To reduce nitrogen levels to comply with EPA guidelines, the North Shore must upgrade more than 20,000 septic systems with clean water technology. In addition to reducing nitrogen in our bays, beaches and harbors, it is critical that we treat septic wastewater before it contaminates our drinking water. Our community sits directly above the Oyster Bay Special Groundwater Protection Area, where fresh water replenishes a deep recharge aquifer. Any untreated wastewater that flows into the aquifer will eventually make its way into our drinking water. But there’s good news! – It’s a fixable problem if we act now. Clean water septic systems, which can remove more than 70% of nitrogen from wastewater, convert toxic liquid wastewater into a harmless gas by harnessing natural processes. As of May 2021, Nassau County homeowners and small business owners became eligible for grant funding from the Soil and Water Conservation District’s SEPTIC program. It can cover up to 90% of the cost to install. Of the 200 available spots, more than 115 applications have been received and 20 clean water septic tanks are on their way to being installed. With support from the Land Alliance’s Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP), Nassau SEPTIC successfully secured an additional $2 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan, bringing the total SEPTIC grant to $20,000 per applicant. If you are interested in applying for a clean water septic grant, please reach out to our WQIP Coordinator Kat Coughlin. She can assist you with every step of the application and permitting process (free of charge). Our WQIP was designed to improve local water quality. To do so, we need to reduce the source of the nitrogen that is polluting our waters. Thanks to the leadership of The Nature Conservancy and funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, we have the capacity to help homeowners and small business owners move through the process as quickly and easily as possible. Nitrogen pollution in our waterways is a problem we can fix. Converting conventional septic systems to clean-water models is a critical step. Working together, we can restore and protect Long Island’s waters. Our future depends on it. For more information on how you can get involved Go to www.upgradeyourseptic.org or call the Land Alliance at 516-922-1028.

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  • Photo Credit: Tina Walsh for Hudson River Park

    How Investments in Clean Water Can Restore Ecosystems

    In March, after a long year of social distancing and cold, cloudy weather, two dolphins were spotted swimming up the East River in New York City. This atypical pair provided a much-needed sign of hope and recovery for City dwellers. Even more surprisingly, tiny seahorses can now be found clinging to oyster cages and other submerged objects in the lower Hudson River. These little seahorses, known as the Lined Seahorse, are one of many aquatic species that now make up a diverse and thriving ecosystem in the Hudson River estuary. For decades, the Hudson River was severely polluted after PCBs, oil, heavy metals and solvents were all dumped into the river by factories producing cars and paper. At one point, local fishermen could tell what color General Motors was painting cars based on the color of the river that day! In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to restrict “point sources” such as factories and power plants from discharging contamination into US waterways. Over the nearly 50 years that have passed since then, NYC has invested more than $12 Billion to upgrade wastewater treatment to improve the health of the Hudson’s delicate, aquatic ecosystems. And, it has worked. A 2017 report by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection found that the Hudson River is the cleanest it has been in over a century as evidenced by the presence of the Lined Seahorse that would not be found in the Hudson River without these extraordinary cleanup efforts. Efforts such as these give us hope that if we take measures now our ecosystems can, indeed, be restored. We must also remember to stay vigilant in protecting our waters to ensure healthy ecosystems for future generations. Photo Credit: Tina Walsh for Hudson River Park

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  • Water Friendly Lawn Care Tips

    Nitrogen pollution impacts the health of our bays and drinking water source.  The #2 source of nitrogen pollution is fertilizers (#1 is septic systems.)  In an effort to protect the water that sustains us, we offer some healthy lawn care tips. 1)  Timing is important.  Fertilizer should not be applied before April and after mid-October. Nor should it be applied during the hottest summer months when grass is dormant and cannot efficiently absorb fertilizer. 2)  A little goes a long way.  If fertilizer is applied, its use should be minimized.  Especially on a well-established lawn, no more than one-third to one-half the amount recommended on the fertilizer bag should be used.  A low nitrogen fertilizer developed especially for Long Island’s fragile ecosystem should also be considered. 3)  Precision is key.  Equipment used to spread fertilizer should be calibrated for a single application rate of a maximum of 0.6 pounds of total nitrogen per 1,000 square feet at least once annually or each time fertilizer products are changed. Calibration directions are available on the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County website.  4)  Grass clippings should be left on the lawn.  Mulching mowers finely chop grass into small pieces which get deposited into the lawn and decompose quickly. It is like adding a little bit of fertilizer after every mow, and allows the property owner to lessen, or eliminate, chemical fertilizer application. As a general rule, no more than a third of the grass blade should be removed during a single mowing. And it’s also good practice to keep the height at least three inches high, which encourages deeper, healthier roots. 5)  Consider a smaller lawn area.  One of the most effective ways Long Islanders can do their part to protect local water resources is to replace their lawn or a portion of it with less water-intensive landscaping like meadows or “xeriscaping.” Xeriscaping makes use of native plant species, requires little to no fertilizer and can help to absorb and filter rainwater. For more information, please visit the following resources:  NYS DEC Lawn Fertilizer webpage

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