Analysis reveals high bacteria levels in Autumn Pond

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | An unusual DNA study concludes that coliform bacteria found in Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic originates with wildlife.

Analysis of water from Autumn Pond in Peconic has turned up traces of human waste, according to Southold Town planner Mark Terry. DNA sampling conducted by Cornell Cooperative Extension indicates a high amount of coliform bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorous in the pond, Mr. Terry said during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

The testing began last summer as part of a larger effort to restore Goldsmith Inlet, which neighbors Autumn Pond, Mr. Terry said. The study tested water from different parts of the inlet during dry and wet weather. In the past, sections of the inlet have been found to contain extremely high coliform bacteria counts, although the analysis shows that the bacteria in Goldsmith Inlet is within a normal range.

The presence of a drainpipe that carries water from Autumn Pond to the inlet has now become a point of concern. The landscaped lawns and private cesspools that surround the pond are believed to be the source of pollutants. The problem is exacerbated during rainy periods due to increased runoff, Mr. Terry said.

The issue will be opened for public comment in upcoming months as the Planning Board develops recommendations to present to the Town Board. In the interim, the planning department will seek additional input from the stormwater management committee.

Testing of Goldsmith Inlet and Autumn Pond has since been discontinued, Mr. Terry said.

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