Environmental coalition pitches water quality recommendations

A view of the Peconic Bay in Greenport. (Cyndi Murray photo)
A view of the Peconic Bay in Greenport. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

A local water quality action group and Southold Town are partnering to streamline local policies on water quality in hopes of putting more comprehensive measures in place to improve the health of the North Fork’s watershed.

On Tuesday, members of the North Fork Clean Water Action Group — an environmental coalition formed by Group for the East End — met with Town Board members to recommend ways the town could help on water quality efforts.

Recommendations included establishing a town water quality advisory committee, creating a Watershed Protection Improvement District and adopting a town-wide wastewater management plan.

As water quality issues come to the forefront on the state and county levels, the group is urging local municipalities to have these types of policies already in place. By doing so, the town would be more likely to receive grant money for water quality projects —such as shoreline restoration — when they’re offered, according to the group members.

Wanting to stay ahead of the curve, board members requested the coalition meet with “key players” in Town Hall to evaluate the town’s existing laws and resources on water quality before moving forward with the recommendations. Council members Jill Doherty and Bob Ghosio were charged with organizing preliminarily meetings with the group and town’s engineers, trustees and shellfish advisory committee— among others.

The board’s decision to re-evaluate its policies and work toward establishing new ones comes just two weeks after members unanimously passed a resolution opposing any involvement in the proposed Long Island Water Control Act, which aims to reduce nitrogen levels in ground and surface waters across Long Island.

Citing a lack of local representation, members said they were against the bill that would establish an island-wide water protection plan.

As proposed, the 11-member commission would include two representatives from the governor’s office, one representative each from the Senate and the Assembly, both county executives, one representative from each county legislature and a single member representing all Long Island town and village governments.

Formed in 2012, the North Fork Clean Water Action Group seeks to address Long Island’s water crisis on the local level.

Locally, the North Fork’s groundwater has some of the highest recorded levels of nitrogen compounds in the county, compounds that can significantly impact human and environmental health, according to the group’s data.

North Fork Clean Water Action Group’s broader goal is to have all five East End towns consider similar clean water action efforts and create a comprehensive East End water quality initiative for the region. East Hampton is already moving in this direction with the development of a town-wide wastewater management plan.

“This is not a Southold solution, it’s an East End solution,” said Bob DeLuca, president of Group for the East End.

[email protected]