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Municipal Septic Upgrades

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 12:28

Less than two weeks after voting to award nearly $400,000 in grant funding for four water quality improvement projects, the East Hampton Town Board heard recommendations from its water quality technical advisory committee to fund upgrades to sanitary systems on municipal properties.

Mellissa Winslow, an environmental analyst with the town’s Natural Resources Department, presented the committee’s recommendations for priority upgrades to town and village-owned properties on Tuesday. Advanced wastewater treatment systems at the comfort stations at Herrick Park in East Hampton, West Lake Drive in Montauk, and Havens Beach in Sag Harbor are the highest-priority projects based on a ranking system determined by need, use, location, and ease and timing of installation.

Priority within those categories was designated if an existing sanitary system is failing or if it is contributing to a water body’s impairment. Ms. Winslow also presented an application from East Hampton Village for the Herrick Park upgrade.

The presentation came on the heels of the board’s move to strengthen incentives for property owners to replace conventional septic systems with advanced ones to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to waterways, which impair water quality and promote harmful algal blooms. The committee “is recommending moving forward with two to five priorities for engineering and design to try to bring the municipal properties into advanced wastewater treatment, show that the town is moving with our recommendations, and showing good faith,” Ms. Winslow said.

A goal, she said, is to install low-nitrogen septic systems at highest-priority municipal facilities ahead of Memorial Day weekend in 2020.

The Herrick Park, West Lake, and Havens Beach comfort stations are highly used and highly visible facilities, Ms. Winslow said. Other facilities that rank near the top of the committee’s list are the Main Beach Pavilion in East Hampton, the comfort stations at Lions Field and Gin Beach, both in Montauk, and the Montauk Playhouse, where there are two sanitary systems.

“We’re recommending with the top seven to move forward with completing engineering, put out a [request for proposals], get some costs, and likely have some cost savings for putting out a bulk R.F.P. for engineering. And then the top three, move forward with installation.”

Because the recommended upgrades are at sites of broad public use, “we should look at increasing the amounts that we would spend C.P.F. funds on at these locations,” said Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, “especially those which are in more critical areas.” He also suggested the comfort station at Fresh Pond in Amagansett, which was not on the committee’s list of priority locations, “given the close proximity to that water body and that beach.”

Funding would likely come from the 2020 community preservation fund water quality budget, though board members, who were supportive of the recommendations and of fully funding them with C.P.F. money, wondered aloud if a septic system upgrade at Herrick Park might be funded with this year’s budget.

The village submitted a proposal to the committee for that project, Ms. Winslow said, which would replace a system installed in 1995 and is “due for an upgrade.” The proposal would remove a 2,000-gallon tank and replace two of five leaching pools “to rejuvenate its capacity.” The comfort station, situated between the park and the Reutershan municipal parking lot, has “one of the highest uses in East Hampton,” she said. “It’s open year round. It’s located in a water protection district,” the Hook Pond watershed, “and would serve a great water quality improvement.”

The project, she said, would complement a Herrick Park redesign, which will be unveiled at this morning’s village board meeting and will be the subject of a hearing at the East Hampton Middle School at 5:30 this afternoon.

The village has completed an engineering plan and applied for permits from the Suffolk County Health Department. “Their request for funding is $132,225,” Ms. Winslow said.

“Perhaps we could fully fund that with this year’s money,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said.

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