HUNTINGTON - Long Island's communities are situated right on top of the water supply, so residents can have a direct impact on what winds up in the water. There are lots of ways that Long Islanders can pitch in to help make sure that it stays safe to drink.

Many municipalities have drop-off locations where people can ditch household chemicals so they don't wind up leeching into the ground at landfills. The Town of Huntington's STOP center accepts oil, pesticides, paint, chemicals and other materials.

Experts say traces of medicines and prescription drugs are also starting to show up in the groundwater. Residents can help stop it by dropping off unneeded medications to local police precincts instead of trashing them or flushing them down the drain.

There are also water-smart steps to be taken in your own backyard. Pesticides can get into storm water runoff, and nitrogen from fertilizers seeps into Long Island's bays and streams, triggering algae blooms that choke marine life. Experts say you should limit your use of those products, or try organic lawn techniques. If you do use fertilizer, select the slow-release kind so the plant absorbs the nutrients as it needs them.

Experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension say residents should never over-water their lawns, because it just creates more contaminated runoff. Lawns should also be kept no shorter than 3 inches tall, because it helps the grass absorb fertilizers more efficiently and leaves less excess to get into the groundwater.

Numbers and Links:

Become a Groundwater Guardian—Suffolk County Water Authority:
http://www.scwa.com/mobile/environment/become_a_groundwater_guardian/

Protecting Groundwater-National Groundwater Association:
http://www.ngwa.org/Events-Education/groundwater-day/Pages/default.aspx

Suffolk County Police Department “Operation Medicine Cabinet”
http://apps.suffolkcountyny.gov/police/documents/Operation%20Medicine%20Cabinet%20Flyer.jpg
(631) 852-6109

Drug Enforcement Administration—Drug Disposal info
http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/index.html

Nassau County Precincts (for dropping off unwanted prescription meds}
http://www.police.nassaucountyny.gov/patrol_pcts.htm

Groundwater Protection—Cornell Cooperative Extension
http://psep.cce.cornell.edu/facts-slides-self/facts/gr-wh-hw-grw85.aspx

STOP Program info
Suffolk County
http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/stormwater_bck/BestManagementPractices/Townships/Riverhead.asx

Town of Oyster Bay
http://www.oysterbaytown.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={94CC0B5B-FA9B-45B4-B9D6-9B036174C83E}&DE={B921A627-62BE-4829-B09E-DCBACF9CAFE5}

Town of Hempstead
http://toh.li/sanitation-department/stop-throwing-out-pollutants

Town of North Hempstead
http://www.northhempsteadny.gov/content/7352/7123/4435/5474.aspx

Glen Cove
Department of Public Works
516-676-2004

City of Long Beach
http://www.longbeachny.gov/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={59CAE0CD-2EC0-474C-A1D8-9513023DE987}