Editorial: We’re all in this bathtub together

08/11/2011 5:34 AM |

It’s not for everyone, but living out in the middle of nowhere has its advantages.

It’s all relative, of course, and while the East End isn’t quite the sleepy, quiet countryside it once was, for the most part suburbia is still found west of here.

Our waters are cleaner than the rest of Long Island’s, and that’s true across the board for our creeks, bays and the Sound. Regarding the Sound, we’re doubly blessed. With one exception — that being the oil tank farm and offshore loading platform in Northville — there’s no industrial development along our northern shore. And given our geographical location, out in the middle of nowhere, closer to the ocean than the congested shores of New York and Connecticut, the Sound’s waters remain clean, if not quite as productive as they once were.

So it would be easy to be dismissive of the new plan to protect the Sound, as reported on page 1. It’s all about up-west, isn’t it? What does it have to do with us?

Quite a bit, actually.

Explaining how communities that share a waterway share all water quality concerns, former East Hampton supervisor Tony Bullock employed a folksy analogy, describing how when a group of young children share a bath, what one does at one end will definitely affect all the others. We may be at the eastern end of the Sound, far from urban settings, but their water flows east, past us, on its way to the Atlantic. We may not be polluting the Sound as those to the west do, but this isn’t a pond and the water doesn’t stand still.

The Sound protection agreement announced this week is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the solution that will end pollution. Planning is one thing, implementation quite another. It always comes down to money. Talk is cheap, true progress usually isn’t.

“Words alone aren’t enough,” North Fork Environmental Council president Bill Toedter said this week. “This is an important test of what actions stand behind the words.”