For close to two decades, the Village of Sag Harbor has been debating water quality issues at Havens Beach, and particularly in the ditch that carries much of the water draining throughout the village into Sag Harbor Bay.
After Monday night, a plan several years in the making to address contamination in the dreen and create a better filtration system for stormwater runoff became one step closer to becoming a reality. During the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee meeting, that board deemed the concept, developed by Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren, as being consistent with the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP).
Almost a year ago, Warren pitched his idea for how to address the potential for stormwater runoff contamination at Havens Beach after several years of debate and research.
It involves restoring a wetland area in the ditch itself by removing 1,550 cubic yards of silt and muck, and filling the ditch with clean sand and native wetland vegetation creating natural bio-filtration. According to Warren, that will help slow the velocity and flow rate of water entering the ditch after a rainstorm, and will help absorb pollutants like nitrates and phosphates before they can enter Sag Harbor Bay.
At the north end of the ditch, closest to Havens Beach, a concrete vault is proposed and would hold 300 Smart Sponge Plus SmartPaks — the only Environmental Protection Agency approved filter to handle the removal of bacteria from water. That mechanized filtration would be a second layer of protection, said Warren.
He has also proposed drainage improvements, including a new catch basin, at the south end of the ditch near Hempstead Street.
On Monday night, the Harbor Committee commended Warren and said the plan was consistent with several aspects of the LWRP. Specifically, the project aims to protect and improve water quality, said chairman Bruce Tait citing policies within the LWRP, and minimizes non-point pollution of coastal waters. It also protects the quality and function of an ecosystem in the village, he said, and by making the beach safer, opens up more recreational activities for residents.
“It’s long overdue,” said Tait.
According to Warren, he is still awaiting approval from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, but hopes that approval will be handed down soon. Warren said he would like to see the dredging of the ditch happen sometime this winter, and ideally would like to see the project completed before the start of another busy summer season.