'Going to be tough if nothing's done.' Environmentalists, seafood businesses worry as water quality deteriorates
Environmentalists say Long Island's water quality is in danger.
Dr. Chris Gobler, of Stony Book University, says recent water testing shows local bays, harbors and estuaries are experiencing the worst fish kills, harmful algae blooms and water quality impairments on record.
The tests showed that only six out of 30 sites tested are ranked as "good."
Gobler says the main cause for the decrease in water quality is nitrogen pollution from sewage.
"And therefore it's not surprise for example that compared to where we were in the 20th century, our landings of hard clams are down by 99%, our landings of bay scallops are down by 99%."
The reports are concerning for Mastic Seafood owner Antonino Locascio, whose retail fish market depends on healthy waterways to produce fish and shellfish.
"It's going to be tough if nothing's done," Locascio says. "We'll have to bring in seafood from other states, which is a shame because Long Island has been known for its seafood."
Gobler says locally we can stem the flow of nitrogen from land to sea to reverse the trends.
Environmentalists say a big part of the solution is to carry out sewage expansion projects and fund septic upgrades.
That's why environmentalists are urging the Suffolk County Legislature to allow the public to vote on a Water Quality Restoration Act in a ballot referendum in November to fund these solutions.
"We know how to treat sewage, we just have to have the money and the political will to implement the solution," says Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
Locascio says the clean water referendum would be vital to keeping his business going.