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A Step Forward for Montauk Wastewater District

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 16:13
Many of Montauk's commercial properties have septic systems that are defined as "nonfunctioning," meaning they must be pumped out more than four times a year, and the town is looking at creating an advanced, centralized wastewater treatment system to address this.
Doug Kuntz

Plans to create a wastewater management district for downtown Montauk took another step forward on Tuesday when an official from the East Hampton Town Natural Resources Department offered recommendations for the hiring of consulting and engineering services for the project. 

Mellissa Winslow, an environmental analyst with the department, also recommended two engineering and consulting firms for stormwater abatement projects around Lake Montauk, and Christopher Clapp of the water quality technical advisory committee recommended using money from the community preservation fund toward a pumpout boat that the town trustees say is urgently needed.

The town board has long considered an advanced, centralized wastewater treatment system for the downtown area, comprising around 200 properties. Many of the hamlet's commercial properties now have septic systems that are defined as "nonfunctioning," a designation assigned a system that must be pumped out more than four times a year. But a large majority of those properties do not have adequate space to replace a failing system with a state-of-the-art, low-nitrogen septic system, as their structures occupy most of the lot.

Improving the downtown's wastewater treatment is urgent in order to limit the release of pollutants that could impact ground and surface waters, including Fort Pond, which has experienced harmful algal blooms. 

The town issued a request for proposals earlier this year seeking consulting and engineering services to set up a system to service the downtown area. Services to be provided include drafting a motion to form a district, mapping its boundaries, determining the parameters and operating cost of a system, an analysis of tax implications, and the identification of potential funding through federal, state, county, or private sources. The awarded contractor will consider the feasibility of installing a centralized system as well as multiple decentralized systems. 

A selection committee formed to analyze the proposals that were received determined that H2M architects + engineers of Melville has "a very thorough understanding of the process," a "very skilled team of engineers and planners," and a good track record in securing grants, Ms. Winslow said. The selection committee recommended engaging H2M at a cost of $129,500. 

Downtown Montauk "was recognized early on as an area that needed to be addressed for human health concerns" as well as environmental concerns, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said, given its density and the number of restaurants and resorts. Montauk's dock area and Ditch Plain have also been identified for centralized wastewater treatment. "This is a critical time for us to address these longstanding needs within the community. I'm happy that we're at a point where we have a recommendation." The board will vote on that recommendation at its meeting today. 

A request for proposals issued in August for multiple Lake Montauk stormwater abatement projects yielded two standout respondents, Ms. Winslow said, and the selection committee recommended splitting the projects between them. 

PW Grosser Consulting of Bohemia was recommended for a project to install permeable pavement at the parking area at the end of South Lake Drive, along with rain gardens and other revitalization of the site to capture and treat road runoff. The cost would be $25,470. 

D&B Engineers and Architects of Woodbury was the committee's recommendation for permeable pavement at the town dock at Star Island and the boat ramp on West Lake Drive, which is to improve drainage, and vegetative swales at West Lake Drive's intersections with Flamingo Avenue and Star Island Road. The combined cost would be $145,820. The board is also to vote on those recommendations today. 

Mr. Clapp told the board that a third pumpout boat, for which the trustees have secured a $60,000 grant from the state's Environmental Facilities Corporation, would support the town's water quality initiatives. The water quality committee, he said, unanimously recommended awarding the trustees $48,570, the balance of the vessel's cost. It is hoped that the new boat will be delivered by the spring. 

"We have an exceptional trustee board," Mr. Van Scoyoc said, "probably one of the best ever in terms of addressing areas under their jurisdiction and even taking an interest in those beyond," such as Lake Montauk, where the trustees saw a surge in use of its pumpout services this year. "They're very conscious about the importance of clean water and protecting our environment here. . . . I totally support this committing of funds toward that effort."



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