Pollutants enter our bays and harbors in a number of ways, but primarily through groundwater and stormwater runoff. Chemicals, such as the fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that we put on our lawns, travel through the soil to the groundwater that flows into our bays and harbors.
Even if people live far inland from the shore, the chemicals they use can travel long distances underground, ultimately finding their way into our beaches and bays, estuaries and wetlands. Nutrient imbalances and chemical substances quickly degrade water quality and promote the growth of harmful algae. Overgrowth of algae causes brown tides and prevents us from swimming, boating, and fishing in the water. Chemicals can have devastating effects on our shellfish and our seagrass meadows.
Cleaning It All Up.
Improperly used, fertilizers and pesticides can adversely affect our water, our ecosystems, and health - and the health of our children and pets. That's why The Nature Conservancy is working to:
- Preserve land and protecting open space that ensures clean waters in our bays and harbors
- Collaborate with towns to strengthen their land use codes
- Restore wetlands and promoting the use of native vegetation
You can help us keep Long Island healthy by:
- Reducing or eliminating fertilizer and chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) on lawns and landscaping
- Replacing high-maintenance sod lawns with native grasses that require far less fertilizer, chemicals and irrigation
- Planting low-maintenance native shrubs in place of non-native ornamentals
- Replacing underground fuel tanks with aboveground models. (Underground tanks can leak, contaminating bodies of water and wetlands. Most towns give financial incentives to homeowners who remove underground tanks)
- Don’t pour old oil, gasoline or other toxic liquids into storm drains or on the ground. Eventually these substances will wend their way into our surface waters and drinking water
- When boating, don’t discharge sewage into the water. Empty your holding tanks at pump-out stations.