Our Work / Conservation

Regional Aquifer Protection Land Acquisition Program

On Long Island, where 100 percent of the drinking water for 2.8 million residents comes from underground aquifers, protecting the land through which water filters is critically important.

It costs up to 10 times more to produce clean drinking water from wells where surrounding land is heavily developed than from wells in the Pine Barrens where the land is protected.

In addition, land conservation reduces the demand on our water supply and the amount of storm water runoff, while providing habitat for plants and animals and increasing the land’s capacity to be more resilient to extreme weather.

Peconic Land Trust’s Regional Aquifer Protection Land Acquisition Program (RAPLAP) is a multi-year program using WQIP* funding to acquire land or development rights for surface water quality, groundwater recharge areas, and drinking water protection.

Funding for the Trust’s RAPLAP program comes from grants from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation — the Trust has received 2 grants to date:

* New York’s Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP): WQIP is supported by the landmark $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act. It is a competitive reimbursement grant program to fund projects that improve water quality, reduce the potential for harmful algal blooms, and protect drinking water across the state. In December 2018, DEC announced more than $103 million for 124 projects being awarded through the WQIP grant program.

Recent Acquisitions:

The following are the acquisitions made by the Trust with funding under RAPLAP:

  • January 2019: Cornfield Preserve, Ridge, Long Island. The first conservation of land under the program. Part of the grant with the Town of Brookhaven. Press Release.
  • June 2019: River Preserve, Manorville, Long Island. The second conservation of land under the program. Part of the grant with the Town of Brookhaven. Press Release.

More on the recent grant programs:

In December 2017, The Trust received $2.3 million from DEC to work with the Town of Brookhaven to identify and acquire properties to further protect drinking water sources. Funding for this project allows properties to be protected in and near the Special Groundwater Protection Areas within the Peconic Estuary and Forge River Watersheds and the South Shore Estuary Reserve.

The Peconic Land Trust is partnering with Peconic Estuary Program to pool resources and expertise to identify and acquire land or development rights on parcels that meet source water protection criteria. The $2.3 million from DEC will provide 75 percent of acquisition costs and the remaining 25 percent is matched with other public and/or private funds.

The Trust was awarded an additional $3 million by DEC in December 2018 for Phase II to assist the Towns of Shelter Island, Southold and Riverhead.

“The Peconic Estuary Program is proud to partner with the Land Trust on this important project. The acquisition of property under The Regional Aquifer Protection Land Acquisition Program (RAPLAP) is essential to achieve clean water standards necessary for a viable future on Long Island. The protection of drinking water resources also ensures the protection of vital groundwater systems at the Head of the Peconic River which contribute to overall estuary health,” said Joyce Novak, Program Director of the Peconic Estuary Program.