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Draft Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy

NYSDEC released the Draft Strategy (PDF) (2.26 MB), which contains the blueprint for a pesticide pollution prevention approach on Long Island. The overall goal of the Strategy is to protect water quality from pesticide-related contamination, while continuing effective pest management on Long Island.

Pollution prevention presents a number of benefits, such as minimizing the introduction of pesticide-related contaminants and fostering the use of practices which avoid such contamination. The pesticide pollution prevention blueprint for Long Island and a summary of other elements of the Strategy are contained in the Executive Summary (PDF) (146 KB). The Draft Strategy is also available at the NYSDEC regional offices and at the Central Office in Albany.

DEC held two public meetings on the Draft Strategy on Long Island in April 2013. Approximately 55 people attended the meetings, with about 25 people providing comments during the meetings. Many comments were also received in correspondence and in e-mails. The Department is considering those comments, will develop a written responsiveness summary and will revise the Strategy as needed.

DEC staff participated in a meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature's Environment, Planning, and Agriculture Committee in March to discuss and answer questions on the Draft Strategy. We also testified at the Assembly legislative hearings on the Draft Strategy, lead by Assemblyperson Sweeney in April.

Summary Information on the Draft Strategy

Summary information is available on this website:

Groundwater Protection and Pest Management

Pesticides are used on Long Island to limit the potentially harmful effects of a wide range of pests that affect people, companion animals, wildlife, structures, agricultural crops and other plants. They play an important role in managing pests in agricultural, commercial, residential and institutional settings. Nevertheless, pesticides pose a potential threat to groundwater quality when they are misused in violation of pesticide laws, rules and regulations, including use in contravention of label directions (pesticide misuse). Pesticides may also pose a threat to groundwater, even when they are lawfully used in accordance with label directions, if their use pattern or chemical and physical properties are such that they have an increased potential to leach through soil.

drawing of the hydrologic cycle
The hydrologic cycle or water cycle shows the general movement
of water above, on and below the surface and features of the Earth.
Groundwater is recharged and affected by the hydrologic cycle.

The sole source aquifer system underlying Long Island is a special natural resource relied upon by over three million people as their principal source of clean, potable water. Pesticide active ingredients and their breakdown products have been detected in Long Island groundwater, as shown in routine water quality monitoring data of various county and federal agencies. (A set of detailed Suffolk County Monitoring Results (PDF) (2.1 MB) is available, separate from the Draft Strategy.) The Draft Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy establishes a path to maintaining effective pest management, while protecting water resources.

The Goal of the Draft Strategy

The goal of the Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy is two-pronged:

  • Prevent adverse effects on human health and the environment by protecting Long Island's groundwater and surface water resources from pesticide-related contamination, and, concurrently,
  • Continue to meet pest management needs of agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors.

Benefits of Pollution Prevention to Meet the Goal

Preventing pollution is the first step in environmental protection. When implemented by all involved partners, the blueprint for action of the Draft LI Strategy will work to avert pesticide-related contamination of water resources and result in benefits such as:

  • Avoiding or minimizing the introduction of new pesticide-related contaminants,
  • Helping speed the cessation or reduction of further contamination from existing pesticide-related chemicals,
  • Fostering use of practices and products which avert pesticide-related contamination,
  • Reducing overall impacts and risks associated with pesticide-related contaminants,
  • Creating opportunity for dialogue with academia, government, pesticide manufacturers, pesticide users, and other stakeholders regarding potential development and promotion of pollution prevention measures, methods and products,
  • Establishing pesticide pollution prevention partnerships and effective pollution prevention outreach,
  • Enhancing existing effective pesticide product registration program.

Pesticide Pollution Prevention Blueprint Summary

To meet this goal, the Draft Strategy's pollution prevention blueprint is based on cooperative stakeholder involvement. The following is a summary of the blueprint.

  • DEC conducts initial assessments of specific active ingredients (AIs) and related pesticide pollution prevention needs
  • DEC forms, convenes and chairs pesticide pollution prevention workgroups; workgroups consider various matters regarding specified AIs and related pollution prevention and advise DEC
  • DEC identifies and prioritizes pesticide pollution prevention measures and partners collaborate to implement pollution prevention measures
  • DEC tracks pesticide pollution prevention results and assesses need for pollution prevention modifications
  • DEC maximizes department use of water quality monitoring for pesticides (monitoring underlies implementation of the entire blueprint.

Detailed steps to implement the blueprint can be seen in the Draft Executive Summary and in Chapter 3 of the complete Draft Strategy.

Pollution prevention has a proven, successful track record with the Department. It is already part of the pest management program and threaded through other Department programs, from stormwater pollution prevention to mercury management and more. A brief description of existing and past pesticide pollution prevention measures taken by NYSDEC and local and regional entities on Long Island is contained in supplemental information (PDF) (2 MB), separate from the Draft Strategy.

Development of the Draft LI Strategy

Several events lead up to the Department's development of the Draft LI Strategy:

  • The idea for a pesticide use plan for Long island arose as a result of a 1996 proposed federal rule, which would have indirectly required states to develop State Management Plans to address potential contamination from the application of certain pesticides.
  • The State Pesticide Reporting Law was enacted the same year and it required the Department to develop and implement a groundwater monitoring program for pesticides. The Department's first annual report under the law, issued in 1998, included a recommendation that the Department develop a Long Island Pesticides Management Plan (Plan).
  • The Department began drafting a plan in response to the proposed federal rule, which was circulated for limited stakeholder review. Although the Plan was modified and amended over time, it was largely undeveloped until 2009, when the Department revisited and revised the Plan, convened a 25-member Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and distributed the draft Plan to stakeholders for review and comment. The most recent version of the previous draft Plan was shared with stakeholders in October 2011. Note that the federal rule was not finalized and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently advised that it plans to withdraw the rule.
  • The Department has revised the previous draft Plan into a workable Strategy based on a pollution prevention approach.

Outreach Efforts

The Department met in mid-February with the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), a 25-member group representing the primary entities involved in pesticide and/or groundwater management on Long Island, which was formed and invited to contribute to the development of the previous draft Plan. The Department also held two meetings in late February with representatives of several stakeholder groups to discuss the LI Strategy and their proposed roles in its implementation. There were a total of about 70 attendees at the meetings included representatives of included pesticide product manufacturers and applicators, academia, public interest groups, professional associations, Nassau and Suffolk County water quality and public health agencies, and the NYS Departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets. The Department presented an overview (PDF) (2.15 MB) of the LI Strategy at the TAC and stakeholder meetings. See attached Press Release. Participants offered positive feedback on the Strategy's pollution prevention approach and the critical role of collaboration to achieve its goals.

Questions and Answers

What is the Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy?

The Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy (LI Strategy) is an approach for managing the ongoing need to prevent potential pesticide impacts to water resources while continuing to meet critical pest management needs on Long Island. The Long Island Strategy includes a blueprint for action, which involves a stepwise approach to addressing pesticide active ingredients detected in groundwater or surface water. The steps include reviewing available monitoring data, identifying potential pollution prevention measures, implementing those measures, and tracking the results.

Why was it developed?

Pesticides play an important and beneficial role in managing pests on Long Island, including regional pests which threaten public health, agricultural and horticultural productivity, structural integrity of public and private infrastructure, quality of stored and marketed goods, and the condition of the environment. Almost three million people in Nassau and Suffolk Counties rely on clean water for drinking and other uses from Long Island's sole source aquifer, a unique and critical resource in the State. The heavy reliance on the sole source aquifer plus the nature of the aquifer system itself (e.g., shallow depth of groundwater, sandy and permeable soils overlying it), underscores the critical need to protect the quality of the groundwater before it becomes impaired for such usage.

Water quality monitoring by Suffolk County and other entities shows that pesticides are among a number of contaminants detected in Long Island groundwater as a result of a wide range of human activities. Most detections were at low or trace levels, which did not contravene water quality or public drinking water standards. Also, the Suffolk County Water Authority finds that finished water (treated water) that they supply to residents overall far exceeds expectations for quality set by New York State drinking water standards.

This draft Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy (Strategy) was developed in response to concerns over detection of pesticide-related constituents in the groundwater over time at various locations on Long Island and recognition of the importance of protecting the environment and meeting critical pest management needs. This approach will both protect Long Island's water resources from pesticide impacts and encourage effective methods for pest management. The Strategy presents a blueprint for DEC, in consultation with stakeholders, to evaluate pesticide usage on Long Island, identify pesticides that have the greatest potential to cause adverse impacts and work with partners to reduce or eliminate such usage or find alternatives that do not present such impacts.

What is the goal of the Strategy?

The goal of the Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy is two-pronged:

  • Prevent adverse effects to human health and the environment by protecting Long Island's groundwater and surface water resources from pesticide-related contamination, and, concurrently,
  • Continue to meet pest management needs of agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors.

Why is it being released for public review?

The Department released the Draft Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy to give the public the opportunity to review the document and provide comments. The Department is considering all comments, will prepare a written responsiveness summary, and revise the Strategy if necessary.

Whom does it affect?

The LI Strategy will affect virtually all users of pesticides on Long Island - agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional, and will protect groundwater quality for all Long Islanders.

How can I get or view a copy of the draft?

The Draft LI Strategy (PDF) (2.26 MB) is available in each of the nine NYSDEC regional offices, at the NYSDEC Central Office in Albany, and on the NYSDEC website.

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