The Southold Town Board of Trustees and shellfish advisory committee are warning that animal agriculture at Fresh & Co. site in Orient could impact nearby waterways and are offering input on ways to mitigate any potential contamination.
“The Trustees and Shellfish Advisory Committee are extremely concerned that the expansion of animal agriculture on the Fresh and Company site, absent robust storm water controls, may irreversibly impair the sanitary water quality of Narrow River and the main body of Hallocks Bay, Orient,” according to the letter submitted Friday morning by Trustees vice president and shellfish advisory committee chairman John Bredemeyer.
The concern is that fecal coliform from animal agriculture could be carried by stormwater runoff into Narrow River, down to the bay, and lead to shellfishing closures and other adverse effects.
Additional closures in Hallocks Bay, which saw two recent shellfish harvests, “will deprive our residents of livelihood, recreation and sustenance and be inimical to the Trustee’s mission,” according to the letter.
The shellfish advisory conducted a dye test in May to track how the water in Narrow River flows during one tide cycle. The lime-green dye originated in a small pond just south of the pond, flowed through a culvert under Narrow River Road and down the river. A drone photographer took images of the dye from above around low tide and created an orthographic map.
The dye reached the vicinity of the nearest state Department of Environmental Conservation shellfish water quality sampling point in one tide cycle, according to the letter. That suggests that stormwater runoff from the Fresh & Co. site containing fecal coliforms from animals could be picked up by the sample site “largely undiluted” within six to seven hours after rainfall.
Such samples could result in a harvest closure longer than five years, according to the letter.
The Trustees are offering recommendations for the Planning Board to consider, including asking the Tenedios barn applicant to provide at least three inches of stormwater containment for all parts of the property that contain animals. They suggest that stormwater containment could include a wetland component that would help filter out nitrogen and other pathogens.
The Planning Board is hosting a public hearing on the application tonight (Monday, July 9) at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.
Photo caption: The Manhattan-based restaurant chain Fresh & Co. has purchased a 35-acre farm in Orient to source its seasonal menu. (Courtesy photo)