As global warming and pollution continue to effect ecosystems all over the world, the citizens of Montauk are taking a stand to protect their home, starting with a new community-wide campaign to help clean up the water in Lake Montauk and Fort Pond. The effort, aptly named the “Save the Lake-Save the Pond” campaign, is being led by one of the most effective environmental groups in Eastern Long Island, the Concerned Citizens of Montauk (CCOM). Founded in 1970, the group, which aims “to keep Montauk Montauk, [by] protecting its unique environment and ecology through education, advocacy, and grassroots citizen action,” will be spearheading the campaign to clean up Montauk’s waters, which will kick-off officially on Friday, June 24th at 3 p.m. at the Ford Pond House in Montauk.
The campaign comes as a reaction to the labeling of both Lake Montauk and Fort Pond as “impaired” by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which deemed parts of both bodies of water as unfit for “swimming, recreation, and shell fishing because of harmful algal blooms and pathogen contamination.” These harmful levels of pollution were found by highly trained volunteer members of the CCOM, who, over the course of three years, took samples from both Lake Montauk and Fort Pond year-round, measuring levels of enterococcus. Enterococcus, a bacteria found in the guts of all warm blooded animals, was measured against the standards set by the EPA for monitoring the bacteria in beaches to determine if they are fit for bathing. This hits close to home for many members of the Montauk community such as CCOM President Jeremy Samuelson, who views water as “the lifeblood of Montauk,” and feels that “the heart of [the] community is threatened by deteriorating water quality.” If levels of enterococcus and other pollutants are not decreased in Lake Montauk and Fort Pond, they may be deemed unfit for swimming, which could impact Montauk’s tourist sector, making the campaign’s goal even more urgent to the community.
The effort to improve the water quality of Lake Montauk and Fort Pond will not be easy, but is well worth it. As CCOM sets out to help decrease the pollution levels in Montauk’s waters, they will train local stakeholders known as “stewards,” as well as “ambassadors” to assist them. These community members will be responsible for reducing human impact on the lake and the pond, through inspecting and upgrading septic systems, reducing the use of fertilizers and non-organic pest control, and taking measures to create buffers to control storm water, among other things. Additionally, Concerned Citizens of Montauk will aim to improve and maintain water conditions through “establishing a water quality council, with representatives from partner organizations, municipal government, the scientific community and homeowners to meet regularly to review data, assess progress and identify next steps,” all with the goal of recovering the local ecosystems of both Lake Montauk and Fort Pond before it is too late.
To learn more about the “Save the Lake-Save the Pond” campaign and CCOM, visit www.preservemontauk.org.