For visitors gazing out over our precious bays, harbors and estuaries, we are fortunate to have one of the most beautiful – and pristine – waterfront communities in the northeast.
The truth is a little grittier as we, like most of Long Island, face the daunting truth about declining water quality. Our population (at least in the summer months) continues to grow and issues like development, the use of fertilizers, and ailing septic systems become more critical with each passing season.
We agree with Sag Harbor Village Trustee Ed Deyermond that now is the time for the villages and towns to form a working group, collaborating with environmentalists and scientists to discuss what legislation can be implemented – regionally – to address this growing problem.
While we appreciate state mandates regarding stormwater runoff will force many municipalities to address that side of this issue, at the end of the day a comprehensive, regional approach is what will be needed if we are to even begin to scratch the surface of this problem and ensure the health of our bays.
We also believe the village should adopt strict standards – for itself and residents – about the use of fertilizer on waterfront parcels as soon as possible. While enforcement is an understandable issue, we have a hard time seeing a greater priority than the protection of our greatest resource.
Creating a septic system rebate program – similar to Southampton, which had such great success with its rebates it is out of funding – is another proposal the village board appears to embrace and we would encourage them to move forward as quickly as possible.
The time for inaction has passed because the truth is we are likely running out of time. The western portion of Shinnecock Bay is effectively a dead zone for shellfish and marine organisms. We don’t want to see another precious body of water meet a similar fate.