Questions and Answers Regarding the Long Island Pollution Prevention Strategy
What is the Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy?
The Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy (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 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.
What is the goal of the Strategy?
The goal of the Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention (P2) 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.
Once the Strategy becomes effective, what are the first steps in the implementation process?
The Strategy will focus first on three active ingredients - imidacloprid, metalaxyl, and atrazine. DEC and stakeholder resources will be needed to follow the P2 blueprint for these three active ingredients. The process for the next group of active ingredients will be triggered as soon as sufficient resources become available.
What role do external stakeholders play in implementing the Strategy?
The Strategy recognizes that a comprehensive approach engaging many stakeholders - academia, public interest groups, pesticide manufacturers, private and commercial applicators, growers - is needed to achieve the goal. DEC will work with the Technical Review and Advisory Committee (TRAC), which is comprised of state and local agencies, as well as public service and academic entities, to consider information about particular active ingredients, identify effective alternatives, and advise DEC about P2 measures to pursue. However, the Strategy recognizes that the other stakeholders have much of the expertise for identifying alternatives, including Cornell, certified applicators and their associations, product registrants, and public interest groups. Likewise, it is these stakeholders who must participate in encouraging the use of safer alternatives by getting the information out about them to the largest number of pesticide users.
Why was the Strategy 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.
The 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.
Whom does it affect?
The 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.