More than 120 youngsters turned out Saturday for World Water Day events, including a beach cleanup, at Smith Point County Park.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone hosted the event, along with Legis. Kara Hahn and the Girl Scouts. Youngsters spent about two hours picking up litter from the beach and learning how to test water for bacteria and nutrients.
Bellone, who has made water quality his No. 1 priority for the county, praised the children and noted the need to safeguard water resources. “These waters are essential to our wellbeing here in Suffolk County,” he said. “We need to protect our resources now and for the future, for drinking water, recreation, clamming and more. We must protect our shoreline from major storms by reducing nitrogen, which harms the wetlands. The efforts of these children are a step toward ensuring our water quality.”
Nancy B. Pierson, Suffolk County senior public health sanitarian, demonstrated water testing techniques to the children. Results of the tests are expected to be available by the end of the week.
Among the large pile of debris collected from the water and beach were a car tire, plastic bags, wooden boards, and bottles, cans and cups.
“I believe cleanups to be an extraordinary way for young kids to participate because they get the immediate gratification in seeing the difference they can make to help protect our water,” Hahn said. “When we coupled that with the education on water testing, there’s real learning going here, both on the importance of clean water and realizing that they can help effect change.”
The event was part of World Water Day, with people around the world studying water issues and committing to practices that preserve water. Children from across Suffolk County, including East Setauket, Bayport, Babylon, Shirley, West Sayville, Mastic Beach and elsewhere participated in the event.
Girl Scouts were able to earn a Love Green patch for their environmental work.