Southampton Town’s council has approved funding to match fundraising efforts by residents to implement a water quality improvement project plan for Sagg Pond and Sagg Inlet.
The board approved $182,000 to be sourced from the Community Preservation Fund — 20 percent of which is used for water quality projects. Through the Peconic Land Trust and Stony Brook Foundation, residents have raised $224,000 to fund several critical tasks as part of a four-year study by Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences professor Dr. Christopher Gobler.
Dr. Gobler, director of the university’s Center for Clean Water Technology, will be monitoring water quality — temperature, salinity, pH, phytoplankton, blue-green algae levels — determining factors promoting the growth of toxic blue-green algae, evaluating nutrient sources, tracking fecal bacteria and food-borne pathogen contamination, and assessing suitability for feeding animals that can clean the water by eliminating these particles.
“The Sagaponack cut is recognized as an important natural resource by both federal and state agencies as a significant habitat for both marine and wildlife,” Councilman John Bouvier said.
The study will help the town trustees manage a cut located at the south end of the pond that connects it to the Atlantic Ocean to provide periodic inlet flushing to rid contaminants and restore conditions favorable to shellfish, certain wetland vegetation, and wetland-dependent wildlife. It’s located near 25 acres of dunes, is a known nesting ground for shorebirds, and is recognized as a significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York State Department of State.
“To impact the crisis facing our coastal ponds and bays requires public and private funding to understand the sources and to implement the best course of action to address them,” said John v.H. Halsey, president of the Peconic Land Trust.