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"State of the Bays Symposium and Seminar"

Presented by Christopher Gobler, Ph.D. of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

April 5, 2019, 7:30pm

Water is at the core of the Long Island existence. We rely on groundwater to drink. That same groundwater is the primary source of freshwater and nitrogen to our coastal ecosystems. We are surrounded by water within which we swim, boat, and recreate. Recent trends in water quality on Long Island have been troublesome. Toxic chemicals are contaminating drinking water supplies. Nitrogen levels in groundwater have risen by more than 60% in recent decades and coastal ecosystems have suffered. Since the late twentieth century, aerial coverage of critical marine habitats on Long Island such as eelgrass and salt marshes have declined by up to 80% and Long Island's top shellfisheries have declined by up to 90%. In 2018, many of the factors driving these negative trajectories in shellfish and habitats were persistent problems. Outbreaks of brown tides, rust tides, paralytic shellfish poison, toxic cyanobacterial blooms, hypoxia, and acidification were documented and are all occurrences directly and indirectly linked to excessive nitrogen loading. Emerging research suggests climate change is likely to significantly worsen all of these impairments in the near future, meaning significant and immediate actions are needed to mitigate these events. Thankfully, multiple solutions to water quality impairments are emerging. 'In the water' remediation approach involving bivalves and seaweeds are showing promise for locally mitigating nitrogen loads and algal blooms. The New York State Shellfish Restoration Program will significantly expand these efforts in the coming years. The New York State Clean Water Technology Center at Stony Brook University has identified cost-effective technologies to dramatically reduce nitrogen loads from individual homes and to coastal water bodies. Implementation of such technologies coupled with 'in the water' solutions will be required to reverse the decadal negative trends in water quality and fisheries.

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