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Focus on Reducing Nitrogen

Thu, 05/05/2022 - 10:28

East Hampton Town’s Water Quality Technical Advisory Committee recommended to the town board on Tuesday the funding of five projects with $545,543 from the portion of the community preservation fund allocated to water quality improvements.

Christopher Clapp of the committee and Mellissa Winslow, a senior environmental analyst in the town’s Natural Resources Department, outlined the five projects, chosen from 10 responses to a request for applications issued in December. Grant awards will be subject to a public hearing.

Two of the recommendations would see the replacement of two commercial wastewater treatment systems with “innovative/alternative” nitrogen-reducing systems. The Montauk Anglers Club and Marina, on Lake Montauk, applied for money to upgrade a failing conventional septic system with an alternative system. The expectation is that it would reduce nitrogen by “upwards of 70 percent,” Mr. Clapp said, or 414 pounds annually, “a pretty good return, being on the water.”

The upgrade would have a positive impact on Lake Montauk, a priority water body, Mr. Clapp said. As a commercial property within a water protection district, it is eligible for up to 65 percent of installation costs, and the committee recommended the awarding of $89,843 toward the total cost of $163,812.

In Amagansett, Main Street Tavern also applied for funding to replace a failing conventional septic system with an alternative system. Expected nitrogen reduction would be 406 pounds annually. While the restaurant is not within a harbor protection overlay district, it is within groundwater’s 10-to-25-year travel time to the Atlantic Ocean.

The project would require a sanitary easement from the town to site the leaching field in the municipal parking lot behind the restaurant. It is eligible for 50 percent of eligible installation costs, and the committee recommended the awarding of $83,350 toward the project’s $223,950 total cost.

The committee recommended a grant to the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in Springs that would pay for the replacement of a conventional septic system with a constructed wetland alternative system. Such systems feature a septic tank but mimic natural wetlands, using plants and microorganisms to treat effluent and reducing nitrogen to levels below or consistent with innovative/alternative systems. The Pollock-Krasner House’s system would be expected to eliminate 28 pounds of nitrogen per year.

The property, owned by the Stony Brook Foundation, is within the water protection district of Accabonac Harbor. As a nonprofit organization, it is eligible for full funding of engineering and installation. The committee recommended a $132,100 award toward the project’s $147,170 price tag.

East Hampton Village applied for funding to upgrade the conventional municipal septic system at the Main Beach Pavilion to alternative systems for each of two restrooms, which would see a reduction of 495 pounds of nitrogen annually. The upgrade would benefit both the ocean and Hook Pond, an impaired water body.

As a municipality, the village is eligible for 100 percent of eligible costs. The committee recommended a $226,000 award toward the project’s $254,400 cost.

Last, the committee recommended a $14,250 award to Concerned Citizens of Montauk to install 3,000 square feet of floating wetlands in Fort Pond. First installed there in 2019, they consist of native plants secured into mats and floated on the pond. As the plants mature, their roots take in excess nitrogen and phosphorus as food, reducing the nutrient load in the water and enhancing levels of dissolved oxygen. Fort Pond has experienced blooms of toxic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in recent years.

“We will certainly give these all due consideration,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said of the recommendations.

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