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Water Quality Priorities

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 12:15


The East Hampton Town Board will hold a hearing next Thursday on a new round of water quality improvements that could be funded in full or part with money from the community preservation fund. Up to 20 percent of the annual fund income can be used for such purposes.

Over all, the projects appear to be a positive step to protect groundwater and improve conditions in the town’s various waterways and ponds. We remain concerned that the program does not adequately consider the economic and environmental worth of the projects it funds.

For example, this round of recommendations included $240,000 for work near Town Pond in East Hampton Village, part of the Hook Pond watershed. Hook Pond is a badly compromised water body but without a systematic plan for its overall restoration, including ridding it of a huge population of invasive carp; the money is essentially going down the drain. This is on top of about $127,000 provided for watercourse remediation in another portion of its watershed in June. Yes, we believe that it would be nice to have Hook Pond return to life, but that should not be a top priority with the limited money available. Instead, the town board should fund a project in Sag Harbor that was put on a kind of wait list — a $230,000 proposal to reduce stormwater overflow along Bay Street, on the East Hampton Town side of the village.

Worth watching, too, is how proposed grants to businesses on Three Mile Harbor and Fort Pond in Montauk do within a 65-percent funding cap on commercial properties. The town may want to consider allowing for zero-interest loans to make sure that these projects are completed in these high-priority locations.

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