The Long Island Commission for Aquifer Protection (LICAP), Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone and concerned stakeholders from all over Long Island on Thursday unveiled a comprehensive media campaign to launch a long-term effort to encourage Long Islanders to conserve the sole source aquifer system that provides 100% of Long Island’s drinking water.
The multi-platform campaign—including thematically-linked digital ads, social media pages, a website, and free merchandise for the public affixed with the campaign logo—was kicked off at an open house at the Suffolk County Water Authority Education Center in Hauppauge.
“We have beneath our feet an incredible natural resource that provides drinking water for Long Islanders from Great Neck to Montauk, and it’s imperative that we engage with the public to make sure they use our water resources wisely,” said LICAP Vice Chair Paul Granger. “This comprehensive campaign will help ensure that Long Islanders are aware of the easy steps they can take to save water, save money and save our sole source aquifer.”
“For years, Suffolk County has been leading the state as we work to improve and protect our water, which includes the sole source of our drinking water—our aquifers,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “I applaud LICAP for their steadfast effort to educate Long Islanders on the importance of water conservation and small steps that can be taken to safeguard our water supply. Water is the lifeblood of Long Island and I look forward to continuing to work together to preserve it for years to come.”
“Our island’s sustainability depends on a clean, reliable water supply,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Every Long Islander can help participate in the goal to save water by participating in water conservation efforts. Saving water doesn’t require any real effort, just small changes in our behavior. The vast majority of our wasted water is caused by leaks that go unrepaired and the improper watering of lawns. Saving a little water today can mean a more robust supply for tomorrow.”
“Our drinking water is our most precious resource, and we must not take it for granted when more than two billion people in the world lack access to safely managed drinking water services,” said Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory. “We at the Suffolk County Legislature are proud of the work we have done at the county level to champion and support landmark legislation to protect our environment, including our drinking water resources, and we thank the Long Island Commission for Aquifer Protection for its work to raise awareness about what Long Islanders can do to help conserve our resources.”
LICAP, in conjunction with its second five-year term that began last year, created a subcommittee focused specifically on ways to conserve our underground aquifer system. The creation of the subcommittee was in part inspired by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s goal, announced in 2017, to reduce peak water use on Long Island by 15% over the course of the next several years.
Meeting since last July, the subcommittee has received active and broad-based participation from representatives of the following agencies/organizations/elective offices: Center for Water Resources Management at NYIT; Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Cornell Cooperative Extension; Green Choices Consulting; Irrigation Association of New York; Long Island Water Conference; Lloyd Harbor Conservation Board; Massapequa Water District; Nassau County Executive’s Office; Nassau County Comptroller’s Office; Nassau County Legislature; Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District; New York American Water; Open Space Council; Peconic Green Growth; Perfect Earth Project; Port Washington Water District; Scotts Miracle-Gro; Smithtown Town Planning Department; Southold Town Planning Department; Suffolk County Executive’s Office; Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning; Suffolk County Legislature; Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District; Suffolk County Water Authority; US Geological Survey; Water for Long Island; and Westhampton Beach Conservation Advisory Council.
The subcommittee was charged with assessing and making recommendations in regard to a wide range of conservation issues and initiatives, including the since-adopted recommendation to the SCWA Board to ban large tanker trucks from filling up with water from hydrants in the Town of Southold, which lies over a very shallow aquifer.
But the subcommittee’s primary focus in its first year has been on the creation of a permanent water conservation brand and associated comprehensive media campaign, which led to the development of a conservation theme/logo, website, digital ad campaign, printed brochure and social media pages.
To develop a theme/logo that resonated with the public, the subcommittee conducted multiple internal and public polls with statistically-relevant results offering a wide variety of design choices. After a comprehensive process and significant public input, the subcommittee chose the overall theme of “Our Water Our Lives” with the tagline “Save Long Island’s Only Drinking Water Source.” The logo features a dark blue/light blue color scheme and a silhouette of Long Island.
The associated website and digital ad campaign, designed by the marketing company Affirm, incorporate the logo and are designed to help Long Islanders see the connection between our lives and our underground drinking water supply.
After an introductory ad, the initial campaign will focus primarily on three conservation measures: encouraging the use of smart controllers/rain sensors and other water-saving technology to help residents water their lawns more efficiently; encouraging the use of EPA WaterSense products for indoor water savings; and, for those who choose not to use water-saving technology, encouraging the adoption of alternate-day lawn watering, which saves water and promotes healthy lawns, as watering less frequently promotes deeper root growth.
The website also includes an attractive display featuring ten easy ways for Long Islanders to save water, as well as information about our aquifer system and a pledge visitors can take to conserve water, among other features.
Despite high amounts of precipitation in 2018 and 2019, Long Island between 2011 and 2017 endured a multi-year stretch of extremely dry weather that negatively impacted aquifer levels. Additionally, population growth (and resulting high water use) in areas of Long Island where aquifers are thinnest has increased the threat for saltwater intrusion. Excessive use of water—especially during the early-morning hours of the spring and summer lawn watering season—also puts extreme stress on existing water infrastructure, which may necessitate costly infrastructure projects simply to meet lawn watering demand.
“A great deal of attention has been focused on groundwater and surface water quality issues recently, and while that’s extremely important, the conservation of our aquifer system needs to be a focal point as well,” said LICAP Chair Jeffrey W. Szabo. “With this brand and infrastructure in place, and with dozens of stakeholder organizations already involved, we feel this will be just the beginning of a long-term effort to ensure the viability of our groundwater resources.”
The Long Island Commission for Aquifer Protection is a bi-county entity formed to address both quality and quantity issues facing Long Island’s aquifer system and to advocate for a coordinated, regional approach to groundwater resources management. It was created in 2013 with unanimous support from the Nassau and Suffolk Legislatures.