By Mindy Germain
As you have probably noticed, there is a lot going on with drinking water on Long Island. It seems to make the paper each week. But, as we know, making it into the newspapers can be a good thing—or a bad thing. In my opinion, any awareness of our sole-source drinking water here on Long Island is always good news. Once aware, we pay attention.
As one of your commissioners in the Port Washington Water District, I can tell you that the trifecta of emerging contaminants, climate change, and the imminent risk of saltwater intrusion have placed us in a new era of water resource management. An era in which knowledge leads us to having a personal stake in its protection. It’s important and even scary to realize that it is all we’ve got! Our only water source is under our feet.
So, what’s been done so far and what do we still need to get done? To answer these questions, we have created a community-wide “Do it for Port” Drinking Water Educational Series, which you can register for at www.pwwd.org.
Our first session took place on Feb.16 and is posted for viewing at www.pwwd.org. It focuses on those “emerging contaminants” and outlined the complex process of pumping, treating, and delivering high–quality water in the wake of those contaminants. We took a deep dive into the multifaceted plan underway that includes: water conservation, land acquisition, piloting treatment, bonds, grants and legal actions to reduce financial burden, treatment design and permitting, project bidding and construction, and start-up testing.
Session two, scheduled for May 4, will explain why conservation is no longer just a nice thing to do. It is necessary. Not only will it allow us to perform the essential steps necessary to secure our water’s future. This is where all of us become the makers of the dream of clean water on our Port Washington Peninsula for as far out as we can reach, which is why we have invited three local residents to share their successes. And it cannot be forgotten that these major improvements cost money. By conserving water, you save money and allow the district to keep wells off-line while undergoing treatment.
On May 11 and 12 we are offering a special two-day program for students and parents in an effort to get residents more involved with protecting our water and earn Do it for Port community service certificates. Participants will have fun suggesting your own creative conservation projects, from rainwater collection to interesting advertising and public awareness campaigns, such as “Who needs half an hour to shower.” In addition, students will be invited to tour our facility and participate in a volunteer certificate program for community service.
We will complete the series on June 18 with a “Sustainable Garden Tour,” a “Show and Tell” of beautiful, low-water usage, earth-friendly landscapes around Port Washington. This will be done in collaboration with ReWild Long Island.
In a nutshell, the “Do it for Port” drinking water program is a road map to a bright water future, handing us the tools to get there. Let’s act now, while there is still time to do this right. Look at it this way: where in the world would we be if we didn’t have access to quality water—and plenty of it?
Mindy Germain is commissioner of the PW Water District; Lead Organizer of the Western Nassau County Aquifer Committee; and Steering Committee Member of the NYS DEC Long Island Drinking Water Sustainability Study