Water policy needed

By: Penelope Moore
Published: 1/3/2008Source: Times Review

To the Editor:

 

Re: "Water, Pond Levels Worrisome" in the December 13, 2007 issue, the Town of Shelter Island should take a closer look at plans implemented successfully in areas that are facing similar water conservation predicaments: Block Island, Nantucket, and even Bermuda (www.blockislandwater.org is a helpful Website).

 

Conservation has to begin with education in school to create a personal philosophy toward conservation and with public awareness not only of homeowners but also of visitors to the Island, and with incentives. Municipal and personal responsibility has to be taken by the town and homeowners. There are no quick remedies to large-scale, Island-wide public environmental conservation of natural resources. If the past decade is any indication, peak and off-peak visitors to the Island, year-round population and construction will likely continue to grow.

 

The Town of Shelter Island might offer incentives to both homeowners and owners of commercial properties (hotels, restaurants, etc). New York City nearly 20 years ago offered tax incentives to landlords and property owners to replace high volume toilets and shower heads with low-flow, water restricting devices. Although today's standard new construction includes low-flow toilets, homes and buildings built before 1994 and not updated continue to use toilets consuming 5 to 7 gallons per flush, in some cases 5.5 gallons more than standard low-flow toilets. Also in New York City, when water shortage is a concern, commercial establishments systematically post "Conserve Water" signs. Visitors to Shelter Island in many cases are not remotely aware that water consumption is a concern.

 

Water Advisory Committee member Will Anderson comments that the problem is not with water use inside, but outside the house. There are a multitude of things a homeowner can do to conserve water within the home. A very good Website, which includes a room-by-room tour featuring helpful conversation tips, is www.h2house.org.

 

The solution needs to come through implementing a plan that includes creating public awareness, gaining community support through incentives and working toward thoughtfully researched long range goals. Adding another salary to the budget to police homeowner and contractor behavior is not the answer. Taxpayer dollars would be better utilized through researching and implementing a policy that has been successful in other areas.

 

Penelope Moore

 

Certified Eco-Broker

 

Shelter Island

 

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