Eye the Environment

Posted on 13 July 2012

By David McCabe


The Sag Harbor Citizen’s Advisory Committee turned its attention to the environment at the group’s meeting on Sunday afternoon, discussing septic systems, recycling centers and illegal off-road vehicles.

John Linder, the outgoing chair of the CAC, asked the committee to consider ways in which members could help the village preserve the sustainability of its bodies of water, especially in light of a report saying parts of Shinecock Bay have become toxic. Quickly, the conversation turned to the placement of septic systems in houses close to the water.

The problem, committee members seemed to agree, was that these systems are too often old and in disrepair. They differed, however, on their preferred solutions.

CAC member Stephen Schumann suggested Southampton Town could consider raising money to completely retrofit its sewage system. Other members of the committee said the cost of such a measure would be prohibitive, and that it would do nothing to solve the problem in the short term.

Linder raised the idea that the Town of Southampton could offer tax breaks to residents who have their septic system checked, allowing them to get the faulty systems repaired. Incoming CAC chair Judah Mahay said the group is concerned that the town, which is looking into ways to clean up local bodies of water, is not thinking in terms of specific programs that could be funded.

“You can’t just throw money at things,” Mahay said.

The committee also addressed the issue of illegal use of all-terrain vehicles in unauthorized areas in the town.

“It’s not that we necessarily want to curb the use of ATVs in general, it’s just when they are used in a place that isn’t really sanctioned,” Mahay said. “The laws are on the books with concern to ATVs, it’s just about making sure those laws are enforced and people are knowledgeable about them and the reasons they were implemented in the first place,” Mahay said.

The CAC also used the meeting to discuss how it could make it easier for Sag Harbor residents to recycle their batteries and electronic devices. Both require special recycling facilities. The CAC decided to wait until its next meeting, because a Sag Harbor resident had raised the concerns about the recycling center and the fact it was unclear where certain objects, like electronic devices, could be disposed of.

“A definite concern that we want to make sure is addressed is that the different recycling centers are working in tandem with one another,” Mahay said, adding he hopes the facilities could find a way to make it clear where residents of Sag Harbor must go to dispose of specific items.

CAC members also spent part of the meeting brainstorming ways to expand their membership, after an Express editorial commented on the group’s diminishing numbers and what the paper viewed as its waning power within the community. Some group members argued that community members think all the issues the CAC could deal with were already resolved, and so they have no interest in the committee.

In the coming months, the CAC will be reaching out to members of the local activist community. Instead of casting a wide net, CAC members will reach out personally to Sag Harbor residents they think may be interested. However, they stressed anyone with an interest in area issues is encouraged to join the committee.

“Anybody who’s a resident of the greater Sag Harbor area that’s interested in how the community develops would be a welcome addition to the committee,” said Mahay.


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One Response to “Eye the Environment”

  1. If any of the septic systems are in failure and polluting Shinnecock Bay they can be repaired or upgraded to proven technology Enhanced Treatment Units (ETU). ETU’s provide high levels of secondary wastewater treatment for residential, commercial and small community systems.

    ETUs were designed for environmentally sensitive areas next to bodies of water (like Shinnecock Bay), for small lots and difficult soils.

    Please feel free to visit our website http://www.onsite-engineering.us and you will see ETUs installed since early 2003 on Skaneateles Lake which is an unfiltered drinking water supply for City of Syracuse, NY. The EPA and City of Syracuse funded installing and monitoring these systems as an additional way to show their success and value. The EPA has approved the use of ETUs over 10 years ago.

    ETUs have also been installed in large numbers by NYC-DEP in the NYC Watershed in both the West-of-Hudson and East-of-Hudson Watersheds in the past ten years. NYS Health Department approved the use of ETUs over ten years ago. ETUs are installed in many Counties in New York State.

    Last, ETUs can also reduce nutrients like Nitrogen (for salt water) and phosphorus (for fresh water). ETU prices are also more affordable than what is generally commmunicated about them by those who prefer central sewer plant solutions. I lived on Long Island for 10+ years and I hope concerned citizens and taxpayers will start asking for these solutions like the rest of the Country has already done.


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