Virtually all of Long Islandís drinking water is drawn from a single system of underground reservoirs, known as aquifers. This led the federal Environmental Protection Agency to designate our aquifer system as the nationís first Sole Source Aquifer, requiring special protection. The Pine Barrens overlie the source of the greatest quantity of the purest drinking water on Long Island.

The threat to water quality lies on the land above the aquifers. Any of 67 contaminants that rainwater contacts will be carried with it into our drinking supply. Common contaminants include: household sewage; fertilizers and pesticides used on lawns and gardens; farmland and golf courses; solid waste, including toxic chemicals, in landfills; industrial wastewater and chemical wastes from laboratories; pet waste and livestock manure.

The quality of our drinking water depends, therefore, on how Long Islandís land is used. The more land is used for homes, lawns, agriculture, business and industry, the greater the contamination of our aquifers.

Two hundred years ago, the Pine Barrens blanketed one-fourth of Long Island, assuring a plentiful supply of pure, fresh drinking water. Today, most of that land has been developed, and our water supply has been compromised. What remains beneath our Pine Barrens is pristine and must be protected.