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Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan

Summer 2017

Excess nitrogen is a major problem for Long Island's waters. Nitrogen as nitrates threatens the quality of the aquifer that is the sole source of Long Island's drinking water. In surface water, it causes toxic algal blooms, which contribute to fish kills and degraded marine habitats. Excess nitrogen also damages the coastal marshes that provide a natural protective buffer during storms.

The Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan (LINAP) will establish a strategy on how best to reduce nitrogen pollution through technical, management and regulatory actions. An article by Kenneth Kosinski and Maria Isaacson on page 10 provides a detailed overview of the issues and the efforts underway. The draft LINAP scope of work was prepared with significant stakeholder input, including five public meetings in 2015 and 2016. The scope describes the LINAP goals, planning structure, tentative schedule and tasks. More details about the LINAP scope of work are presented in the article by Elizabeth Cole on page 16.

Studies that support the LINAP effort are underway. Subwatershed modeling will estimate the amount and sources of nitrogen entering a given waterbody. Hydrodynamic modeling is being used to ascertain the residence times of surface waters, which is important when determining how much nitrogen should be allowed to enter a waterbody. Work is also being done to establish waterbody-specific ecological endpoints, to provide quantifiable goals.

Local involvement and ownership are fundamental to the success of LINAP. Suffolk County is piloting alternative/innovative on-site wastewater treatment systems (A/I OSWS) designed for nitrogen removal. Nassau County is focusing significant resources on improving nitrogen removal at existing water resource recovery facilities, and evaluating alternative outfall locations to reduce adverse impacts on sensitive bays. Read more about these and other efforts in this issue of Clear Waters.

NYSDEC and its partners are committed to undertaking aggressive actions to reduce nitrogen pollution while the LINAP effort goes forward. Moreover, information sharing is - and will continue to be - an integral part of LINAP. These efforts include regularly updated web pages and a monthly newsletter highlighting partner updates, public meetings and funding opportunities.

New York has already committed many hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce nitrogen pollution on Long Island. Moving forward with our LINAP partners, and using information gathered from workgroups, modeling, studies and stakeholder input, we will develop and implement more specific actions so that Long Island has the clean water it deserves.

To learn more about LINAP, visit DEC'S LINAP webpage. To receive updates, enter your email in the blue "DEC Delivers" box on that page.

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