What's in the Water: Reversing the tide of pollution
Suffolk County recently launched an initiative to prompt residents and business owners to upgrade to state-of-the-art nitrogen-reducing septic systems in an effort to stem the tide of pollution in Long Island's waterways.
Experts say nitrogen from lawn fertilizers and septic waste is the main cause for the red, brown and rust tides around the Island. Dr. Chris Gobler, of Stony Brook University, says it has been detrimental to hard shell clams, scallops and sea grass.
"There is a lot at stake for Long Island financially. Recreation is a multibillion-dollar industry, commercial fishing is a multibillion-dollar industry," says Dr. Gobler.
"We clearly have a water quality crisis," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told News 12 Long Island. "We can't have a vibrant future or a prosperous future in this region if we're not protecting our water."
The nitrogen-reducing systems are expensive at nearly $20,000, but homeowners can get financial help. Bellone says the grant loan program "makes it workable and affordable for the average homeowner to be able to replace that old wastewater treatment system."
The county says more than 500 homeowners have applied for the grant since the county started accepting applications in July. Experts say that is a good sign for Long Island and its water.