Rewards program offers residents incentive to help preserve bay waters

Diane Hewett Courtesy Photo | example of a rain barrel.
Diane Hewett Courtesy Photo | Homeowners can install rain barrels to collect runoff water, keeping water to use when needed instead of running into local estuaries.

Residents of the Hashamomuck Pond watershed in Southold will have an opportunity to earn cash to use for landscaping while they also help preserve nearby bay waters.

The Peconic Estuary Program announced Friday a new rewards opportunity designed to educate residents about the watershed and reduce the amount of pollutants entering the bay.

The pilot program is modeled on successful projects in Maryland and other states nationwide, said Jennifer Skilbred, education and outreach coordinator for the group.

About 470 property owners in the area are eligible to receive up to $500 each to build rain gardens or install conservation landscaping using native plants. That landscaping must cover a minimum of 50 square feet, according to the group.

Diane Hewett Courtesy Photo | Conservation landscaping utilizing native plants and mulch.
Diane Hewett Courtesy Photo | Conservation landscaping utilizing native plants and mulch.

Homeowners can also install 50-gallon (or larger) rain barrels to catch water to use for watering plants. All the projects are intended to reduce the amount of stormwater entering the nearby estuary, Ms. Skilbred said, and the total reward depends on which projects a property owner pursues.

Homeowners are also asked to avoid using pesticides and fertilizers, according to the program’s application requirements.

A total of $50,000 in federal funding has been secured for the program through the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s on a first-come, first-served basis,” Ms. Skilbred said. “The more homeowners we get involved the better.”

Program officials will host a community meeting to demonstrate the different project options and inform homeowners about the requirements.

For more information on the rewards program visit or contact Ms. Skilbred at [email protected].

[email protected]

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