Concerned Citizens of Montauk (CCOM) has added two new harbors, Accabonac Harbor and Northwest Creek, to its enterococcus bacteria testing program. The water quality monitoring program was established in 2013, as part of Surfrider Foundation’s nationwide Blue Water Task Force, with just a few sampling sites, mostly in Lake Montauk. Over the past six years it has expanded tremendously, now testing 30 sites spanning from Montauk to East Hampton Village.
The decision to include these locations comes after great interest from the community and discussions with the Town of East Hampton Natural Resources Department. “Over the last couple of years we’ve received a number of requests from community members who live around Northwest Creek and Accabonac Harbor to monitor those waters, and we just haven’t had the means to add new sites,” explained CCOM Environmental Advocate, Kate Rossi-Snook, who spearheads the program.
A generous donation utilized to upgrade the CCOM sample incubator has allowed the non-profit to double their in-office laboratory testing capacity to 30 sites per sampling round. Rossi-Snook processes all the samples collected by her and the dedicated volunteers right in the CCOM office laboratory.
“Up until now, we’ve only sampled in Pussy’s Pond in that area, so we’re hoping that these new testing sites at the south end of the harbor will give us some baseline data showing what’s going on with bacterial contamination before the next round of planned projects begins,” Rossi-Snook explained.
Samples are taken once a month during the winter, and on a weekly basis during the summer. On average CCOM tests over 800 samples each year. Rossi-Snook has found that typically heavy rains or extreme high tides, in combination with warmer temperatures, often lead to elevated bacteria levels, which can be a public health concern.
For the second year in a row, CCOM will partner with Stony Brook Southampton to perform weekly testing and analysis of Fort Pond for Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).
“Harmful algal blooms are typically fueled by increased nutrient loadings from septic systems and stormwater runoff. Mitigating direct discharges of stormwater and replacing outdated and ineffective cesspools and septic systems with new innovative alternative systems, which have higher nitrogen treatment capabilities can help remedy the problem,” Laura Tooman, CCOM President, said. “But until there is a concerted effort by the Montauk community to address these nutrient loadings, Fort Pond remains susceptible to the blooms, and thus close and frequent monitoring is integral”
As we near the height of the water quality monitoring program sampling, CCOM is raising awareness for the cause during CCOM’s Party for the Pond @ Ruschmeyers on Friday, May 17 from 6 to 9 p.m.
“Party for the Pond is a great opportunity to spend a fun evening with other folks who love Montauk and care about water quality as much as you do,” Tooman relayed. “All funds raised will allow CCOM to continue our efforts to protect Fort Pond, Lake Montauk, and other waters throughout East Hampton.”
The evening will include food, drinks, a raffle and silent auction.
“The summer season passes by so quickly, and we wanted take a moment before it begins to support CCOM and help remind everyone of the importance of protecting Montauk’s bodies of water,” noted Tyler Aposhian, General Manager at Ruschmeyers. “Located across from Fort Pond, Ruschmeyers has seen firsthand the effects of climate change and tourism’s carbon footprint.”
Tickets are $60 per person in advance and $75 at the door.
“We are extremely fortunate to have an organization like CCOM focusing on these issues, and Ruschmeyers is proud to support them along the way,” Aposhian added.
CCOM’s mission is to “preserve and protect the unique environment and ecology of Montauk through education, advocacy, and grassroots citizen action.”
Ruschmeyers is located at 161 Second House Road in Montauk. For more information, call 631-238-5720 or visit www.preservemontauk.org.