07/11/14 10:00am
07/11/2014 10:00 AM
ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | A South Ferry boat crossing the Shelter Island Sound at sunset.

A South Ferry boat crossing the Shelter Island Sound at sunset. (Credit: Eleanor P. Labrozzi)

The Suffolk County Legislature voted unanimously to approve funding to dredge the South Ferry channel connecting Shelter Island with North Haven with work expected to be done between October 1 and January.

(more…)

04/03/14 8:00am
04/03/2014 8:00 AM
Work was completed March 27 on the Mattituck Inlet dredging project. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Work was completed March 27 on the Mattituck Inlet dredging project. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

After more than 15 years of negotiations the dredging of Mattituck Inlet is officially complete, providing area boaters with safe travel and adjacent residents with a newly replenished beach, federal officials said.

Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), who pushed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finance the project, called it a victory, adding that its completion didn’t come without its share of hiccups.  (more…)

03/06/14 5:00pm
03/06/2014 5:00 PM
An engineer surveying the coast to the east of the inlet Thursday morning. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A worker with the U.S. Army Cops of Engineer was seen surveying the Long Island Sound coastline just to the east of Mattituck Inlet Thursday morning. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Ron McGreevy has pushed for more than a decade for the dredging of Mattituck Inlet. So naturally, he’s been keeping a watchful eye on the project, which started Jan. 21.  (more…)

01/17/14 2:30pm
01/17/2014 2:30 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTOS | Mary Drum’s cabin in Mattituck in early October (top) and as it appeared Jan. 10.

Just three months ago, water could be heard rushing beneath the floorboards at Mary Drum’s Marratooka Point summer cabin. The beach under her cabin had once been dry sand but, as with many other cabins lining the thin peninsula on Great Peconic Bay west of Deep Hole Creek, that sand had been sucked away and carried to the east with every breaking wave.

In December, the county Department of Public Works dredged Deep Hole Creek, along with many other waterways, not only improving navigability but also redepositing the sand washed away by the water and providing stability to the vulnerable homes nearby.

Marratooka Point homeowners are among many throughout Southold Town who are finally seeing erosion relief after storms Irene and Sandy. The town Trustees make recommendations to the DPW about which waterways are most in need of dredging — and on which side of each the removed sand, or dredge spoils, should be placed. Homeowners, however, often disagree about where those spoils should go.

“We had heard from the homeowners to the west as well as homeowners to the east [of Deep Hole Creek],” said former town Trustee Dave Bergen, who helped make this season’s dredging selections. “[Those to the east] of course also wanted the material, but because of the extensive damage caused by Sandy and Irene and the vulnerability of the houses … we decided to place it to the west of the entrance.

“I would imagine that next time, the material consideration will be for homeowners to the east,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ms. Drum’s cabin, along with about 10 others along Marratooka Point, now sits soundly on a freshly refurbished beach.

“I am delighted,” said Ms. Drum, whose primary residence is in Mattituck. “I am delighted that [the spoils] went our direction. I don’t know how far they pumped it or how long it will last, but at least it’s on our side.”

The cottages on Marratooka Point, each known by a name — like Dunes or Bay Breeze — rather than a street number, date back to the mid- to late 1920s and were built by members of the Wickham family who inherited the bayside property.

Each cottage holds decades of family memories, with many owners hoping to create more in the future, Ms. Drum said.

“We’ve had a wedding reception, and one of my granddaughters had the rehearsal dinner there,” she said. “It’s just a very idyllic place that’s different. I call it camping with convenience.”

Diane Jeffrey travels from her home in Chicago to enjoy summers on the North Fork. She said she’s been staying at one cabin or another since she was 5 years old. Her father eventually bought the cottage known as the Dunes, which has since been passed on to her.

“We are in so precarious a situation,” Ms. Jeffrey said. “We’d lost so much and over the course of the last 15 years, it was almost like being on a houseboat at high tide. You’re sitting on your deck and there’s water running right underneath,” she said. “We’re happy the powers that be listened to all of us who called and explained.”

Mr. Bergen said several eroded locations were significantly improved by this season’s dredging, including the east side of Brush’s Creek, where residents also have rejuvenated beaches leading to their homes.

“Another very successful dredging was Corey and Richmond creeks,” he said, adding that dredging at all seven locations scheduled has been completed, just a couple of weeks shy of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s dredging deadline.

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01/15/14 7:00am
01/15/2014 7:00 AM
BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Workers will be operating around the clock to get Mattituck Inlet dredged before the state's shut-down window.

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Mattituck Inlet dredging work is expected to last about a month.

After receiving approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, dredging at Mattituck Inlet is scheduled to start early next week.

Village Dock Contracting Inc. of Port Jefferson, which was contracted in mid-December to dredge the inlet, will begin what’s expected to be a month-long project on Tuesday, Jan. 21, said Southold Town attorney Martin Finnegan. Work on the $2.2 million project will proceed “24/7,” he said, and is expected to continue until Feb. 28.

State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations require waterway dredging to be completed by Jan. 15 to protect aquatic life, leaving U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials in need of an exemption from that dredge window.

The federal government last year agreed to dredge Mattituck Inlet, for which the Army Corps is responsible — a project 15 years in the making — and to use the dredged material to rebuild the heavily eroded beach east of the stone jetties. The jetties, built in 1906, extend out into the Sound, interrupting the natural west-to-east movement of sand, known as the littoral drift. As a result, a large amount of sand has collected against the west side of the west jetty, leaving the beach to the east starved of sand.

The dredging work, during which close to 100,000 cubic yards of material will be removed from the inlet, will both widen and deepen the inlet channel to 11 feet below mean low tide, improving navigability. The dredged sand will be placed on the beach to the east in a 20-foot-wide strip about 4,500 feet long, starting at the eastern jetty, according to Congressman Tim Bishop’s office.

Ron McGreevy, a resident who helped in lobbying the federal government to undertake the project, said some sand will also be removed from the western side of the jetty and placed on the beach to the east, which, he noted, disappointed some residents on the western side.

According to a 2010 Army Corps study of the inlet, about 12,000 cubic yards of sand move along the beach from the west every year, collecting around different areas of the inlet — meaning additional dredging will be needed in the future as sand builds up over time.

The study found that each year, about 7,000 cubic yards builds up on the western side of the jetty; about 3,000 cubic yards moves into a shoal in front of the inlet’s entrance, essentially blocking part of it; and the remaining 2,000 cubic yards goes inside the inlet itself, building up and hindering vessels from safely navigating the waterway.

Mr. Bishop (D-Southampton), who has called on the federal government to take responsibility for the situation, and do something about, it since his start in Congress, said, “Recreational and commercial fishing is a big part of our heritage and we have an obligation to maintain navigable waterways that are also safe.

“It’s one of the four inlets in my district that the Corps is responsible for,” he said. “Mattituck is perhaps the least active, but that doesn’t make it any less important.”

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10/05/13 8:40pm
10/05/2013 8:40 PM

KENDRA MCCARRICK GRAPHIC | Some of the areas scheduled to be dredged this season by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works.

Which waterways will be dredged this season? It’s a question asked at this time each year as the town and county work together to develop a dredging schedule.

Dredging becomes necessary as shifting sands and beach materials carried in the water build up in creeks and ponds, affecting water quality and the navigability of waterways.

“It is important from an environmental perspective that there is sufficient flushing,” said Southold Town Trustee Dave Bergen.

The dredging season runs Oct. 1 to Jan. 15. Dredging in “critical fish habitat areas” will be complete by Dec. 15.

Gull Pond was the only waterway on the town’s dredging list that did not receive county approval, Mr. Bergen said.

The following are waterways that will be dredged this season.

Budds Pond

Provides access to Hashamomuck Pond, Albertson Marina and Port of Egypt. Removed materials will be placed on the nearby barrier island.

Corey Creek

Provides access to East Creek and Mudd Creek in Cutchogue Harbor and is designated by the DEC as a critical fish habitat area. Materials will be placed east of the entrance.

Deep Hole Creek

Used by recreational vessels. Materials will be placed east of the entrance.

Richmond Creek

Provides access to Hog Neck Bay and is designated by the DEC as a critical fish habitat area. Material will be placed west of the end of Indian Neck Lane.

Brush’s Creek

Used by recreational vessels and provides access to Peconic Bay. Materials will be placed east of the creek.

Goose Creek

Has marinas for recreational and commercial use and provides access to Southold Bay. Materials will be placed west of Southold Yacht Club.

Cedar Creek

Home to Cornell Cooperative Research Center and provides access to Little Peconic Bay. Materials will be placed to the east of the creek.

Little Creek

Designated by the DEC as a critical fish habitat area, is used for recreational vessels and provides access to Little Peconic Bay. Materials will be placed east of the creek.

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06/26/13 10:00am
06/26/2013 10:00 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | EPA environmental scientist Bernward Hay listens to the concerns of audience members Tuesday.

Local government officials blasted members of the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday for failing to properly notify them about a public meeting regarding the agency’s intentions to designate dredged spoil dumping sites in the eastern Long Island Sound.

The meeting, held at Suffolk Community College’s culinary center in Riverhead, outlined the EPA’s plans to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study evaluating potential dumping sites in the eastern portion of the Sound.

Four dredging sites currently exist in the Sound. Cornfield Shoals is the closest to the North Fork, located north of Greenport. The New London site is just west of Fishers Island. The other two sites are the western Suffolk site, south of Stamford, Conn. and the central Sound site, south of New Haven.

For the past 30 years dredged material from the eastern Long Island Sound has been disposed of primarily at the New London and Cornfield Shoals sites. Both are scheduled to close in 2016, prompting the EPA to seek out new dredge spoil disposal locations.

Alternative areas being considered are located off of Southold and Greenport.

“One of the things you said is if you want to get the public involved in this process, well, you first have to invited the public,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, who told EPA members he was first notified of the meeting just 24 hours earlier.

Furthermore, Mr. Russell said he has not received answers to questions previously submitted to the agency on the issue.

“As supervisor of Southold Town I certainly should be involved in this process,” he said. “You need to make sure we are at the table for this discussion.”

Approximately 20 people attended the meeting, many echoing Mr. Russell’s statement about the short notice.

During the hour-long presentation representatives from EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, who helps designate and monitor the sites, outlined the process of choosing a new dumping area.

“This is a work in progress we are narrowing down locations that could work as a potential site,” said Bernward Hay, an EPA environmental scientist. Mr. Hay noted the environmental impact statement would not guarantee the approval of any proposed dumping site.

The new impact study will build on an evaluation conducted in 2005 when the agency established dumping sites in the western and central portion of the Sound, according to the presentation.

The study would analyze sediment, geographical position, depth of water, distance from the coastline and the history of dumping in the proposed areas, Mr. Hay said. The study would also take into account impacts on shellfish beds, fishing areas, shipping lanes and recreation areas.

But local lawmakers expressed frustration over the presentation.

“Suffolk County has an agriculture leasing program that’s not mentioned at all,” Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said.

Citizens agreed the proposal wasn’t comprehensive.

While the dredge material from Long Island is mostly sand that can be used for beach restoration, Connecticut dredge spoil is fine-grain silt or clay that’s not suitable for beach repairs. Because of that most of what is deposited in these sites comes from Connecticut, according to the EPA.

“Anything that comes from Connecticut ends up on Long Island’s beaches,” Mattituck resident Ron McGreevy said. “I think you need to collect more information from the Long Island side of the Sound.”

The Farmingdale-based nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment doesn’t believe any dredge spoil should be dumped in the Sound, according to its executive programs manager, Maureen Dolan Murphy.

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers agreed in 2005 to phase out open water dumping and to develop a dredged material management plan before deciding to move forward with this step, however that plan was never developed, Ms. Murphy said.

Elected officials also questioned the continued use of underwater dumping sites.

“It’s well documented that there is a high incidence of shell disease in crabs and lobster in the waters around these dump sites,” said James King, Southold Town Trustee and commercial lobster fisherman. “I think the bottom line here is that water disposal is the cheapest, easiest way to get rid of dredge spoil. There is a lot of game playing.”

The EPA said it would continue to assess the proposed sites in more detail and include more data.

Additional public meetings on the issue will be held in the winter.

A dredge spoil disposal map showing current dumping sites.