(Long Island, NY) On Tuesday, April 28, County Executive Steve Bellone announced that the Suffolk County’s Legislature approved an agreement that will authorize the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, in cooperation with the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee (PEPC), to develop a quality assurance plan for data collections which will facilitate further research to support the re-opening of closed shellfish beds in the Peconic Estuary. Suffolk County, which is a member of the PEPC along with the state Department of Transportation and various local municipalities, will utilize $75,000 from its 477 Water Quality Reserve Balance Fund to help fund the program.
The latest agreement coincides with the County’s Reclaim Our Water Initiative, which focuses on addressing the region’s growing nitrogen pollution crisis that has eliminated the region’s once-renowned shellfishing industry, effected water dependent economies and tourism, and threatened Long Island’s surface, ground and drinking water supply.
“The quality of our waterways has been an ongoing problem for decades now due to nitrogen poisoning,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “This serious threat is the reason why we have brought various water quality experts and officials from all levels of government together to establish a plan to invest in water management to protect the future of Suffolk County. In order to reclaim our water and restore our shellfishing industry in the Peconic Estuary, our experts must obtain and extensively evaluate vital information in order to move forward with these initiatives.”
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services currently conducts an extensive water quality monitoring program for multiple purposes. The funds from the water quality reserve fund will be used to ensure that supplemental testing and data collection program will be usable by state and federal agencies, and to assess the effectiveness of various water quality management practices as well as potential infrastructure upgrades in various watersheds of the Peconic Estuary.