Conserving Long Island’s Water Source

August 12, 2020

Long Island’s Drought Alert!


Residents on Long Island rely on an underground aquifer system for their freshwater needs. Groundwater is pumped up to the surface and gets replenished by precipitation and snowmelt that seeps through the ground. 

Image from USGS


Given the recent drought alert for the region, the nearly 3 million residents in Nassau and Suffolk counties need to be especially mindful of their water usage at this time. Coastal aquifers are susceptible to saltwater intrusion when freshwater is pumped from the aquifer at a faster rate than it’s replenished. If there is not enough fresh water in the aquifer to prevent saltwater from encroaching, salt water can contaminate freshwater wells.  

Conserving Water at Home


Reducing the amount of water that’s pumped from the aquifer begins at the tap. Long Islander’s have a great opportunity to reduce water usage at home.

Here are some ways to conserve water at home:

  • Install a toilet tank bank or make your own to save water with every flush!
  • Only run the dishwasher or washing machine with a full load.
  • Add an aerator to faucets or replace fixtures and shower heads with EPA WaterSense labeled ones.
  • Upgrade appliances to a water-saving version.
  • Take showers and reduce your shower time (make a shower playlist to keep track of the time!)
  • Check for and repair any leaks in your home. Learn to read your water meter to better detect leaks.
  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or soaping up dishes when washing by hand.
  • Check the weather before watering your lawn, and only water during early morning or night time to reduce evaporation.
  • Sweep your patio/driveway and use a watering can for the garden instead of using a hose.

Take the pledge to reduce your water usage at home and join fellow Long Islanders in the movement to conserve Long Island’s water source!

Visit the following sites for more information about water conservation on Long Island:

Improving Long Island’s Water Quality


Nitrogen pollution is the biggest water quality issue on Long Island for both surface and groundwater. Nitrogen comes from wastewater, fertilizer, and stormwater runoff. Not only does it leach into groundwater and can contaminate drinking water, nitrogen flows toward surface waters and often causes harmful algal (plant) blooms due to excess nutrients. Algal blooms usually lead to fish kills and impact boating, swimming, fishing, and shellfishing. Some algae are poisonous for people, too. For information about initiatives to reduce nitrogen pollution on Long Island, click here

Protecting Water Quality at Home

The opportunity to protect Long Island’s water quality begins at home. There are plenty of ways to not only protect, but to improve water quality and reduce nitrogen pollution with a few simple practices and upgrades. If every Long Islander implemented at least one of these changes, the results would be incredible!

Yard Stewardship

Lawns and gardens are certainly aesthetically pleasing, but upkeep can be a major culprit of nitrogen pollution. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your lawn and garden looking great while protecting Long Island’s water quality:

  • Plant natives that do not need excess watering or fertilizing.
  • Use drought-resistant plants and flowers.
  • Install a rain barrel or rain garden.
  • Use low-nutrient fertilizer or compost.
    • As per Local Law 41-2007, Suffolk County residents cannot apply soil between November 1st and April 1st each year.
    • As per Local Law 11-2009, Nassau County residents cannot apply fertilizer between November 15th and April 1st each year. 
  • Plant microclover for your lawn instead of grass.
  • Apply mulch to reduce evaporation from soil.
  • Aerate your lawn with holes for better drainage and less run-off.

Take the pledge to help reduce nitrogen pollution and conservation water in your yard

Visit the following sites for information on yard stewardship programs and initiatives on Long Island:


Septic Upgrade

An old or poorly maintained septic system can lead to sewage backflow (sewage backup into the home), sewage overflow (sewage surfaces in the yard), and environmental degradation. Traditional Long Island septic systems and cesspools are not designed to filter nitrogen. Older systems will continually cause nitrogen to leach into the groundwater and to surrounding water bodies and surface waters. 

Take our pledge and you will receive our guide on septic upgrades this Fall! This resource will provide information on government initiatives and available financing. 

Visit the following sites for more information about septics and nitrogen pollution on Long Island: 

< Back to Our Work

Related Articles

On October 15th, 2020, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF), Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and Students for Climate Action (S4CA) held a candidate forum for New York Congressional Districts 1 and 2, which cover a large part of Suffolk County and the southeastern portion of Nassau County. The forum took…

On September 29th, 2020, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a candidate forum for New York Senate District 55, which covers parts of Monroe and Ontario Counties, to replace State Senator Rich Funke. The forum took place on Zoom ahead of the general election on November 3rd. NYLCVEF regularly holds…

We recently held a candidate forum for New York State Senate District 1, which covers the east end of Suffolk County. This race will decide who will replace longtime State Senator and environmental champion Kenneth LaValle, who is retiring.

NYLCVEF has released its Clean Bus Guide: a toolkit of resources for community members and groups to launch their own campaign for electric school buses.

We recently held a virtual forum on the role of energy transmission in New York’s plans to expand offshore wind power. The event was co-hosted with Anbaric Development Partners and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School and sponsored by Con Edison.

This July, we encourage you to take the challenge of going plastic-free. Recruit your friends, family, and neighbors to take the Plastic-Free July Pledge. Everyone that takes the pledge will be automatically entered to win a free zero-waste kit!

On May 28th, 2020, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a candidate forum for New York Assembly District 125, which covers Tompkins County and parts of Cortland County, to replace longtime Assemblymember Barbara Lifton, who is retiring. The forum took place on Zoom ahead of New York’s primary election on…

We recently held a candidate forum for Congressional District 17 in the lower Hudson Valley, whose longtime representative and environmental champion, Nita Lowey is retiring.

Join the growing movement for electric school buses today! Sign up for our mailing list here! Clean Bus Guide! We are excited to release our Clean Bus Guide, a toolkit we put together to help communities around the state promote the transition to electric school buses. Organize your own electric school bus campaign using our…

Get Involved