North Fork Salt Make a difference by sourcing locally. © Red Vault Productions

Long Island Water Quality

A Chef's Connection


A Chef's Connection 40 years ago Bruce Bollman had a vision that Long Island’s North Fork would become a gourmet destination.

You Have Every Choice to Make a Difference and Source Locally

Long Islanders have a lot of purchasing power. When we purchase produce, seafood, and other products that are grown or sustainably harvested locally it helps support our community. This purchasing power also can be directed in ways that provide financial incentives for our local farmers and fishermen who are employing or transitioning to practices aimed at reducing impacts to Long Island's waters.

Early November Brings A Lot of Baymen to Orient Harbor

In the early 1980's roughly 500,000 lbs. of bay scallops were annually harvested from Peconic Estuary, accounting for more than 25% of the total commercial bay scallop harvest in the US. The late fall and winter inshore bay scallop fishery was culturally and economically important for the seaside communities that ring Peconic Bay. Starting in 1985, bay scallop populations took a double blow when brown tide directly resulted in bay scallop mortality while simultaneously damaging the eelgrass meadows that are so important for the survival of juvenile scallops. While the significant investments in resurrecting bay scallop populations on the east end are yielding results in some parts of the bay, lost eelgrass meadows and nitrogen pollution fueled harmful algae blooms remain major obstacles to attaining robust, self-sustaining bay scallop populations.

Collecting water to make sea salt
Long Island Collecting water to make sea salt © Red Vault Productions

We Don't Harvest Anywhere After a Long Period of Rain

In some places on Long island, water quality noticeably deteriorates after a big rain. However, the rain itself is not a threat to water quality. The problem comes from what the rain can pick up, such as contaminants from roads and other impervious surfaces. Rain can pick up water soluble fertilizers and pesticides from lawns and farms. Rain can even flush pet waste into the bay. Big rain events can also flood out low lying septic systems, causing them to discharge raw sewage directly into the bay or into storm drains that eventually flow to the bay. Next time you hear a beach is closed because of rain, remember, it is not really the rain that is the problem. Flooding septic systems and contaminated storm water runoff are things we can prevent.

Explore Local Stories About Water Quality

We're Oyster Farmers
An oyster farm with 1 million oysters can filter 50 million gallons of water per day, making them a critical piece in protecting Long Island's water quality from nitrogen pollution
Southwest Nassau County
Jim's Solution
A Freeport junkman Jim Ruocco has witnessed what happens when 50 million gallons per day of minimally treated sewage effluent are discharged into a poorly flushed estuary.
Answers & Solutions
As a fishermen and scientist, Carl LoBue ponders what our successors will think about the decisions we make today, and how those decisions will impact the island’s fishing future.
Shelter Island
See how Long Island’s smallest township is a microcosm of the region-wide water quality problem.
On Display
When the new Great South Bay inlet created by superstorm Sandy opened up, it formed an 8-mile undeveloped stretch of Fire Island called the Otis Pike High Dunes Wilderness Area.
It's Imperative
Mastic Beach
Mayor Maura Sperry talks about how water quality affects one of Long Island’s most flood-prone communities.
Something Lost
George Remmer, commercial fisherman, restaurant owner, and college professor, laments the changes he has seen around Great River, Grand Canal and Great South Bay.
Collapse of a Legacy
North Sea
Howard Pickerel has hand-built 600 boats in his backyard. Pickerel boats were at one time the backbone of Long Island’s shellfishing industry.
A New Perspective
Evelyn O'Doherty is a year-round stand-up paddleboard racer, paddler, surfer and yoga teacher who lives in East Hampton.
On Georgica Pond
Even Long Island’s most bucolic communities are not immune to the effects of nitrogen pollution.
A Chef's Connection
Forty years ago Bruce Bollman had a vision that Long Island’s North Fork would become a destination calling for gourmet artisanal eateries.