It’s full steam ahead for seven water quality improvement projects in Southampton Town.
The town board approved the proposals to a smiling audience on October 9. It marks the first round of 2018 funding from the Community Preservation Fund. Twenty percent of the revenue from the fund can be earmarked for water quality improvements each year.
“They’re all in the buckets of our reduction, remediation, and restoration strategies,” town Principal Planner Janice Scherer said. “They’re applications for different ways to improve water quality in various watersheds.”
Lake Agawam in Southampton, Round Pond near Sag Harbor, Mecox Bay in Water Mill, and the Hampton Bays Hampton Hills Association, Village of Westhampton Beach, and Village of Sag Harbor will soon see the benefits of the funding. Three of the applications are storm water-related projects.
Round Pond will undergo a $187,000 storm water mitigation and habitat project proposed by the town in cooperation with Sag Harbor. The bulkhead at the end of Round Pond Lane will be removed and a stabilized slope, vegetative rain garden, and bioswales will be added. This will also make space for a canoe launch.
“They’re restoring the whole area,” Scherer said. “It will be much more natural — bringing back that habitat while still allowing for public access. It’s a great project to restore the natural conditions in this area and it’s a good opportunity to analyze Round Pond.”
Opening and closing the inlet at Mecox Bay in Water Mill is important to maintaining its health. Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences is working with the town to create $271,922 worth of monitoring stations in the bay that will show results in real-time to test salinity, oxygen, and other levels to know when the best times are to open and close the inlet.
“We’ve been managing the water there for 300 years,” Ed Warner, the president of the Southampton Town Trustees, said. “We were doing it on a limited budget and eventually selling sand to have the ability to manage the pond. I’m really looking forward to seeing this long-term fund take the politics out of it.”
He said he is working on developing a long-term plan to better manage the area, which the public will be able to see in the future.
Trustee Scott Horowitz, who serves as the board’s treasurer, pointed out how the project will not only save the environment but save money that can be used to improve deteriorating infrastructure.
“Making sure we’re able to provide the necessary services to all people of this town and manage water bodies and ecosystems is important,” he said. “Obviously, it takes money. This is going to allow us to pay major debt services so people can enjoy the water. I think this is a classic example where there has to be a very synergistic relationship between the trustees and the Town of Southampton.”
The Hamptons Hills Homeowner’s Association is already putting in a bulkhead in Hampton Bays, so Scherer said the group’s proposal to put in a $168,178 permeable reactive barrier behind the bulkhead made sense.
“The way groundwater comes through to Shinnecock Bay at this point is with such a force that they’re able to understand the hydrology behind this and can tell the barrier will catch so much nitrogen coming through,” Scherer said. “And they can measure in sections how it works, so there’s a bit of citizen science going on while they’re going a long way with nitrogen removal.”
Lake Agawam will receive some drainage system updates. Catch basins and culverts, which allow water to flow under roads, railroads and trails, will be added pull storm water out of the system. The project comes in at $292,040.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Scherer said. “This water contributed to the lake’s degradation. This is much needed.”
Main Street drainage pollution prevention and sewer system updates will be undertaken in Westhampton Beach.
“It’s going to have a big, positive impact,” said Mayor Maria Moore, who was accompanied by village trustees.
A comprehensive Main Street upgrade was approved between Potunk Lane and Mill Road and between Main Street and the outfall to Moniebogue Bay, and filters will be added to sift out any other contaminants. This project totals $1,238,933.
“That’s important because Moniebogue is listed as an impaired water body,” Scherer said.
The village will also be installing a sewer main. Part of the village’s second approved proposal is $1.13 million for
Sag Harbor will be adding rain gardens and bioswales among other various storm water collection and pollution prevention projects.
John Parker, a village Harbor Committee member, said the funds will go a long way.
“We’re looking at this as a continuing series of projects,” he said. “The village is involved in pending legislation to require innovative low-nitrogen systems for new constructions and substantial reconstruction. The village has a water-testing plan and we’ve worked with trustees for funding of that and we will have tests to show improvements in water quality. We’re looking at this on a long-term basis and in a comprehensive manner to improve the area.”
Along with engineering and design money for future projects, this project comes in at $264,000.
“Thank you for taking on this initiative,” Warner said. “Being a fisherman and a community member and seeing how the water quality has been going downhill, it means a lot to me that everyone is uniting to do these projects. We inherited a lot of polluted water and this is a great step moving forward.”