Not so long ago, the Hamptons was a pristine beach community where the water never made us itchy or sick. “Today, we have red tides, brown tides, mahogany tides… all kinds of tides,” Robert DeLuca, President of the Group for the East End (G4EE), told Hamptons.com. We were at their Swing into Summer gala at The Bridge, the tony environmentally conscious golf course that overlooks the (sometimes troubled) Peconic Bay. Actor Richard Kind presided, with hosts Stéphane Samuel and Robert M. Rubin.
Swing into Summer co-chairs included Katherine and Marco Birch, Elaine Crocker, Graciela and Munir Dauhajre, Grace Koo and Kerry Heffernan, Genevieve and Rob Lynch, Robbianne Mackin and Dave Jasper, Susan Abdalla and Peter Stern, Kim White and Kurt Wolfgruber and Donna Winston.
Without our marine life ecosystem, we could become merely vortexes of traffic, tempers, and construction. Luckily, DeLuca leads an environmental stewardship that all can join. It starts, he says, with antiquated sewage systems that did not foresee the environmental hazards of the nitrogen that it leaches into our waters. “It’s a resource out of place,” he explained. “Nitrogen is a nutrient but, if you have too much, it’s going to destroy the system that it’s going into. And we’re starting to see that.”
It’s a problem that must be addressed. “So, we have to essentially re-engineer the way we do waste water. People may say, ‘Oh, we could never do that,’ but take a look at what we did with land protection 20 years ago.” The group spearheaded the formation of a Community Preservation Fund. “We now have a billion dollars available for land protection and tens of thousands of acres protected,” DeLuca said. “And we want to do the same thing for waste water.”
The issue needs major funding to be fixed. “So, this November, there will be a ballot proposition in each town to allow the Community Preservation Fund to be extended to 2050. The towns will have the opportunity to use 20 percent of their CPF funds for water quality protection,” he explained. “That generates $20 million dollars a year across the region, $500 million dollars a year or more till the end of the program. And that’s the money you need to figure out how to get the old systems out, the new ones in and get us operating into the 21st Century.”
What to do if you have a problem? DeLuca told us, “First, contact the Town’s Natural Resources Department, to come out and take a look. The second thing I would do is hire a state certified lab to do some water quality sampling. Determine the health based on what’s going in. Then, based on the water quality and the analysis, figure out how to go forward with a plan.”
Remember, it takes a village to save one.
For more information about Group for the East End, visit www.groupfortheeastend.org.