Flooding in downtown Riverhead, as noted in the News-Review article of March 3, will be a continuing and accelerating problem. According to an article in the Feb. 23 issue of Newsday, “the National Academy of Sciences said that by 2100 the world’s oceans will rise between 11 to 52 inches.” It’s irrelevant whether or not this is the result of human activity; the fact is this is going to happen. Furthermore, rising ocean temperatures will be resulting in increased storm strength and activity.
Downtown flooding is only part of the problems that Riverhead will be facing during the next 100 years. Dramatic increases in the rates of coastal erosion, flooded septic systems, increasing pollution of the bays and saltwater intrusion to groundwater are just a few of the impacts that future politicians will need to address. And responses in your article from Supervisor Walter and Councilwoman Giglio show that there are no practical answers to the current problem, much less what’s going to happen in the future.
Last year, North Fork Environmental Council president Bill Toedter and I met with Supervisor Walter to advocate for the completion of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. I believe the LWRP was approximately 90 percent completed by the end of 2007. If emphasis for the completion of the plan was devoted to the predicted impacts of sea level rise and increased storm damage, at least this would provide a critical planning tool for future town leaders.
Funding for completion of the LWRP could be provided with the $75,000 in environmental remediation money that was part of the settlement for the filling of the small freshwater wetland 10 years ago along Route 58. This amount of money would not go very far in addressing an actual environmental remediation project, but it would serve to provide funding for the completion of a comprehensive environmental study of very serious future problems.