What is the Source?
What is the Source of My Drinking Water?
Long Island’s aquifers are a natural phenomenon not found in many places. Precipitation travels for decades through hundreds of feet of closely-packed sand and gravel in a natural filtration process that cleanses the water.
Unlike most of the country, Long Island gets its drinking water from a system of aquifers, a naturally formed underground storage area that reaches a depth of 1,000 feet. Made up of huge layers of sand and gravel, the aquifers contain about 90 trillion gallons of fresh water, more than is actually needed to meet the current demand. Precipitation and melted ice trickling downward constantly replenish the aquifers, each year recharging more water than is pumped out.
As the rainwater travels through hundreds of feet of soil and closely-packed sand, it is thoroughly filtered and cleansed of most impurities before reaching the aquifers. Unfortunately, unwanted chemicals that are carelessly dumped on the ground can also travel the same path into the aquifer. Nevertheless, with 2.8 million residents living as well as conducting business and industrial activities directly above the public water supply, instances of pollution can occur.
Thirty to 50 years ago, groundwater protection regulations were practically nonexistent. Today, there are many strict government regulations including chemical and hazardous materials storage ordinances; zoning laws that prohibit a host of industries from locating within the “deep recharge” areas that feed the aquifers; and tough waste water treatment requirements.