DEC forms committee to tackle pesticide issues

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | New York's agricultural center will be represented in the committee. Above, a North Fork vineyard.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has created a pesticide use committee to look for ways to reduce the impact of more than 100 pesticides found in Long Island’s groundwater, according to a DEC press release issued Monday.

The committee, which first met Nov. 30, will create the Long Island Pesticide Use Management Plan, which will focus on mitigating the impact of pesticides on groundwater.

While Suffolk County Water Authority and other public water suppliers treat groundwater to remove contaminants, private wells that draw water from groundwater reserves ordinarily do not, which can pose a health risk, according to the DEC. High levels of pesticides in drinking water can cause birth defects, damage to the nervous system and, in some cases, cancer.

The DEC-led committee, made up of government officials, pesticide applicators, agriculture representatives and environmentalists, is expected to release a final plan next year. The plan will shape the DEC’s policies for reducing pesticide-related threats to Long Island’s drinking water.

Every year, homeowners, farmers, groundskeepers and exterminators apply millions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of gallons of pesticides to control pests, according to the DEC. The committee will develop policies to encourage Long Islanders to manage pests with some of the least-toxic pesticides as well as environmentally-friendly methods that do not contain pesticides at all, the DEC said.

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