A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation conditional shellfish harvest program that was to open the northern section of Accabonac Harbor yesterday has been postponed at least until Tuesday because of the recent rainfall.
Based on water quality testing conducted by the East Hampton Town Trustees, the D.E.C. was to open the northernmost portion of the harbor, including tributaries lying north of a line extending west from the westernmost point of land at 128 Gerard Drive to an orange marker on the opposite shoreline, through April 30.
The waters were to be open to shellfishing between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
But the opening is conditioned upon less than .45 inches of precipitation recorded for each of seven successive days. The area will be closed if more than .45 inches of rain is recorded in 24 hours.
Rain on Friday evening and Saturday morning exceeded that threshold, John Aldred of the trustees said. More precipitation Monday night into Tuesday further delayed the start of the conditional program.
The trustees, who announced the conditional program at their meeting on Dec. 9, determine the harvest area’s status each morning based on rainfall amounts. Bill Taylor, a deputy clerk of the trustees, will conduct rainfall readings, Mr. Aldred said. “There will be necessary water testing done throughout the period, once a month,” he said at the Dec. 9 meeting.
A recorded message detailing its status as open or closed is available by calling 631-324-6393 daily after 8:30 a.m. The D.E.C.’s website also has information on shellfish alerts, including temporary closings. Shellfish harvesters will be responsible for determining whether the “open” message has been given for the particular day before working in the conditional area.
If the orange marker on the western shoreline is removed, missing, or not in its original position, shellfish harvesting in that portion of the harbor will be suspended, according to the D.E.C.
The D.E.C. may also suspend, revise, or cancel the conditional program if the bacteriological water quality is found to be above standards for certified shellfish harvesting, if no rainfall reading is available on any particular day, or if any other condition is found to exist that may be a threat to public health.
Closures as a result of other instances of pollution, such as rainfall in excess of three inches, may exceed seven days’ duration and will require water sampling to determine the condition of the area before reopening.