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NYC's plan to pump water from Queens wells worries Nassau


<ul><li><p>WORRIESINNASSAU</p><p>$3.99 |LI EDITIONSundayMay 25, 2014</p><p>THE LONG ISLAND NEWSPAPER</p><p>COPYRIGHT 2014, NEWSDAY LLC, LONG ISLAND, VOL. 74, NO. 264</p><p>NYCplans to reopenQueenswells, promptingconcern about impact on LI groundwater</p><p>A2-3</p><p>HI 74 LO 58PARTLYCLOUDY</p><p>SoaringInto</p><p>SummerFLAGSAND FLIGHTS</p><p>STORIESONA7, 10-11PHOTOSANDVIDEOATNEWSDAY.COM</p><p>SPORTS FINAL</p><p>MEMORIAL DAY</p><p>U.S. Navy Blue Angelsover Jones Beachat Bethpage Air Show</p><p>STEVEPFOST</p></li><li><p>BY JENNIFER</p><p>New York City isseeking to reopendozens of itswells in Queens,pumping millions</p><p>of gallons of drinking waterfrom the aquifers under LongIsland a move that somepolicymakers and environ-mentalists say could harmNassau Countys access to itsonly source of water.The city will be de facto</p><p>taking Nassau water oncethey turn those wells on, saidSarah Meyland, director ofthe Center forWater Resourc-es Management at the NewYork Institute of Technologyin Old Westbury.The city plans to reopen as</p><p>many as 52 of its 68 shutteredwells in Queens as part of itsWater for the Future pro-gram, a $1.5 billion project bythe citys Department of Envi-ronmental Protection to re-pair leaks in the citys upstateaqueduct system.While part of the aqueduct</p><p>is closed for repairs, estimat-ed to begin in 2021 and take aslong as 10 months, the cityplans to make up the loss in</p><p>water supply by pumpingmore than 33 million gallons aday from the aquifer systemthat lies under geographicLong Island by rehabilitatingthe currently dormant wells.The city has maintained</p><p>state permits to operate thewells, some of which have notbeen operated for nearly twodecades, and plans to conductpublic hearings on the environ-mental impact of the pumpingthis fall, a source said. Work toreopen the wells is expected tostart in 2016.The city has yet to release</p><p>more data on the plans effect,but documents show that it iseyeing the wells as a continued</p><p>source of water, even after theaqueduct project is completed.The move has caused alarm</p><p>among some inNassauCounty,who fear the citys pumpingwill cause increased saltwaterintrusion on the countys northand south shores, a shift in thedirection of undergroundplumes of contamination, and ageneral drawdown of the aqui-fer system, the sole source ofwater for Nassaus nearly 1.4million residents.There is a natural tenden-</p><p>cy for water to want to flowfrom Nassau into Queens,Meyland said. As soon asthose wells come on, youregoing to increase the natural</p><p>loss of water from Nassauinto the Queens part of theaquifer system.Suffolk County, which also</p><p>relies on the aquifers as itssole source of water, wouldntlikely see an effect, since theunderground topographykeeps water in Suffolk fromflowing into Nassau, she said.State Sen. Jack Martins (R-</p><p>Mineola)wrote to stateDepart-ment of EnvironmentalConser-vation Commissioner Joe Mar-tens last month, urging him toensure the citydoes a full analy-sis of the environmental im-pacts of its plan includingthe effect onNassauCounty.Water doesnt know politi-</p><p>cal boundaries, Martins said.So we have these rules and re-quirements to make sure oneside doesnt take risks at the ex-pense of everyone else. And iftheres one thing were nevergoing to risk, its going to be theintegrity of our groundwaterhere on Long Island.Martins said he also asked</p><p>the DEC to consider suspend-ing the citys permits to oper-ate the wells pending review.Its the equivalent of hav-</p><p>ing a blank check out therethat the Department of Envi-ronmental Protection cancome and cash at any timewithout consequence, withoutconcern about the potential en-vironmental impacts on west-ern Nassau County, he said.The city did not make a rep-</p><p>resentative available for com-ment.Ron Busciolano, superviso-</p><p>ry hydrologist in the Coramprogram office of the U.S. Geo-logical Surveys New YorkWater Science Center, saidwhen the Queens wells wereoperating, the water levelswere lowered by as much as30 feet in some areas.A 1986 DEC report on Long</p><p>Islands groundwater foundthat pumping at the then-ac-</p><p>] NYCplans to reopenwells inQueensandpumpwater fromunderNassau</p><p>] Critics fearmovewill harmLIgroundwater, increasesaltwater intrusiononshorelines</p><p>TOPSTORIES</p><p>NEW</p><p>SDAY/ALEJANDRA</p><p>VILLA</p><p>Pumping water from NYC wells, such as this one in Laurelton, Queens, could affect Nassau.</p><p>A2</p><p>NEW</p><p>SDAY,SU</p><p>NDAY,MAY25,2014</p><p></p></li><li><p>tive Queens wells resulted inserious effects on the aquiferin that area and in under-ground water flow across theborder from Nassau.Those levels have rebounded</p><p>since the pumping stopped, butresumed pumping in Queenscould cause underground con-taminants tomove and increasesaltwater intrusion on theshores, Busciolano said.I think western Nassau</p><p>County, if they [the city] startpumping, would be the areayou would see the effect, Bus-ciolano said.Some water authorities in</p><p>Nassau County are alarmed.Saltwater intrusion is a</p><p>major, major concern of ourswith the activation of theQueens wells, said Greg Gra-ziano, superintendent of theWater Authority of GreatNeck North. Changing flowdirection is a concern. Theremay be plumes out there thathave not impacted our wells.The Water Authority of</p><p>Great Neck North penned aletter last month to the DECopposing the reopening of thewells until a full environmen-tal review is done, a positionechoed by Assemb. MichelleSchimel (D-Great Neck), whoissued a statement May 1 ex-pressing her own concernsabout the project.But Michael Tierney, super-</p><p>intendent of the Water Au-thority of Western Nassau,which the city approached in2012 under a now-abandonedproposal to purchase water</p><p>from two Nassau providers inaddition to reopening theQueens wells, said he didntbelieve there would be an im-pact on Nassau.I really do not see the dras-</p><p>tic issue on the water supply,Tierney said. They are nottrying to impact us or any-body else in Nassau Countyor Suffolk County.Andrew DeMartin, chair-</p><p>man of the board of the Man-hasset-Lakeville Water Dis-trict, said he wanted to re-serve judgment until the citysplans were firmed up.Until I see the science be-</p><p>hind what effect it will haveon the aquifers, I dont neces-sarily think theres a reactionto it, DeMartin said. I thinkthe people of Queens are al-lowed to the water under</p><p>their property, just as the peo-ple in Nassau are.Joe Martens, commissioner</p><p>of the DEC, one of the agen-cies that would oversee the re-opening of the wells, pledgedto monitor the situation.Were concerned any time</p><p>theres an impact on ground-water, so were going to be in-volved, Martens said. I thinkthe city will be more than</p><p>happy to cooperate with usand provide us all the informa-tion we feel like we need inorder to evaluate the impactson groundwater.Nassau County did not re-</p><p>spond to a request for com-ment on the citys plans. But inFebruary 2012, Susan King,then-director of environmentalhealth programs for theNassauCounty Department of Health,wrote a four-page letter in re-sponse to the citys draft envi-ronmental impact statement, inwhich she expressed concernsabout the plan. She urged thecity to describe how it plannedto analyze the effect of itspumping on the aquifers.It would be expected to</p><p>have a dramatic effect on thewater table elevation in easternQueens and western Nassau,King wrote. The potentialdrawdown of the water tablecould have a substantial impacttoNassauCountywater suppli-ers and should be thoroughlystudied and modeled prior toimplementation.The final environmental im-</p><p>pact statement the city issuedin 2012 did not address the fulleffects of reopening theQueenswells; a secondenviron-mental impact statement or re-view on the well project is ex-pected to come out this fall.The question is, whats that</p><p>impact going to look like?Mey-land said. That is a black holeright now. The citys not talk-ing about it. And theres no onein Nassau County capable ofmounting opposition to this.</p><p>TOPSTORIES</p><p>1,000 feet</p><p>200 feet</p><p>600 feet</p><p>1,000 feet</p><p>1,400 feet</p><p>B e d r o c k</p><p>Nassau</p><p>Queens</p><p>BrooklynJamaica</p><p>AtlanticOcean</p><p>EastRiver</p><p>EastRiver</p><p>EastRiver</p><p>Diagram isschematic</p><p>UpperGlacialAquifer</p><p>MagothyAquifer</p><p>JamecoAquifer</p><p>Saltygroundwater</p><p>LloydAquifer</p><p>Claysilt layer</p><p>Contractors work to build abypass tunnel to repair NYCsRondout-West Branchaqueduct tunnel in Newburgh.</p><p>AP/JEFF</p><p>GOULDING</p><p>AQUIFERSUNDERLONGISLAND</p><p>A3</p><p></p><p>NEW</p><p>SDAY,SUNDAY,MAY25,</p><p>2014</p></li></ul>