Walking along the Long Island shore
Long Island Shore Walking along the Long Island shore © © Anthony Graziano

Stories in New York

You Can Help Clean Long Island's Water

Clean Water Depends on Us

Why You Should Act

Nitrogen pollution from cesspools, septic systems and the application of fertilizer to lawns and farmland flows into our bays, harbors, ponds and creeks through groundwater. When we flush our toilets, nitrogen-loaded wastewater goes into the water table beneath our feet and slowly flows out into surrounding water bodies.

How to Make a Difference

  1. Replace your cesspool/septic system with a nitrogen-reducing system. Suffolk County now offers an incentive program of up to $11,000 per household, and East Hampton has a rebate program of up to $16,000 per household. For more information, check out this new technology, contact Chris Clapp at The Nature Conservancy or visit Suffolk County’s website ReclaimOurWater.info.
  2. Reduce or eliminate fertilizer and lawn/garden chemicals. Choose drought-resistant plants and grasses. Proudly display a ‘toxin-free landscape’ sign from East Hampton’s Perfect Earth Project, perfectearthproject.org.
  3. Limit use of bleach, which kills the beneficial microbes that process waste in home septic systems. Also limit use of garbage disposals, which can overload the system with solids.
  4. Use water and energy efficiently. Don’t use the washing machine, dishwasher and shower at the same time. Don’t use sprinklers in the rain.
  5. Do not flush pharmaceutical products or solids down the toilet, including wipes, diapers, tissues, paper towels. Many drug stores and police departments will accept unused drugs.
  6. Join the Long Island Clean Water Partnership and sign up for action alerts at licleanwater.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.