11/12/14 5:30pm
11/12/2014 5:30 PM
A view of Mattituck Inlet (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

A view of Mattituck Inlet (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

While lawmakers have proposed legislation to deal with deteriorating water quality such as mandating the use of costly wastewater treatment systems, one East End legislator has an idea for how to go about paying for such initiatives.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) has proposed using a portion of monies raised in the Community Preservation Fund, a law passed 16 years ago which taxes real estate transfers on the first East End towns.

Revenue from the CPF has been devoted strictly to open space purchases, protecting land from development in the towns.

But Mr. Thiele — the same lawmaker who sponsored the original CPF legislation — said it is time to use some of that money for water treatment systems and other clean water projects.

(more…)

11/09/14 8:00am
11/09/2014 8:00 AM
Paul Stoutenburgh was honored on Saturday during a memorial service titled 'Focus on Paul.' (Cyndi Murray photo)

Paul Stoutenburgh was honored on Saturday during a memorial service titled ‘Focus on Paul.’ (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Paul Stoutenburgh wore lots of hats.

Perhaps best known for his work pioneering conservationism on the North Fork, the celebrated environmentalist most valued his role as a husband, father and friend, his son, Roger Stoutenburgh, said during a memorial service held for his father Saturday.    (more…)

11/07/14 1:17pm
11/07/2014 1:17 PM
Suffolk County health department workers have done extensive groundwater quality testing near the former Grumman plant in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Suffolk health department workers have done extensive groundwater testing near the former Grumman plant in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

In an attempt to further safeguard funding for Suffolk County’s Drinking Water Protection Program, County legislators have proposed a new law to ensure certain federal reimbursements for fund expenditures are deposited back into the program.

According to Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk), a portion of Drinking Water Protection Program money goes toward paying the salaries of certain county employees, positions that are also eligible for state and federal reimbursements.

(more…)

10/27/14 3:00pm
10/27/2014 3:00 PM
Senator LaValle presented L.I. Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela with the Paul Stoutenburgh Leadership Award.

State Sen. Ken LaValle presented L.I. Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela with the Paul Stoutenburgh Leadership Award.

North Fork Environmental Council advocacy volunteers Friday celebrated the 2014 Paul Stoutenburgh Leadership Award winner, the first since the recent death of the council’s notable co-founder.

Long-time Long Island Farm Bureau executive director Joseph Gergela — who is retiring after 26 years in the role — received the award, a decision that came as a surprise to some, considering the fact that relationships between farmers and environmentalists can sometimes be seen as at-odds.

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10/27/14 12:00pm
(Credit: Courtesy SBU SoMAS)

(Credit: Courtesy SBU SoMAS)

Researchers from Stony Brook University and The Nature Conservancy released a map last week that depicts the location and breadth of water quality problems, such as brown tide and hypoxia, that cropped up around Long Island this past year.

While the experts noted the cool summer helped ward off the potential for widespread algal blooms, the blooms weren’t the only cause for concern in 2014.

And, the issues were widespread, ranging Long Island Sound waters near the Bronx and Queens, to Mattituck and Montauk.

The map highlights the presence of rust tides in the western Peconics, paralytic shellfish poisoning in Meetinghouse Creek in Aquebogue, and toxic blue-green algae in Mattituck’s Lake Marratooka, among others.

(more…)

10/24/14 3:00pm
10/24/2014 3:00 PM
Dieter Von Lehsten, the co-chair of Southampton Town's Sustainability Committee, at Riverhead Town Hall on Thursday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Dieter Von Lehsten, the co-chair of Southampton Town’s Sustainability Committee, at Riverhead Town Hall on Thursday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The Town Board appears split on a plastic shopping bag ban in Riverhead Town — last pitched to the board in May of this year — which was discussed in town hall last Thursday, and could be subject to an inter-municipal agreement with other towns and villages in the area.

Dieter Von Lehsten, the co-chair of Southampton Town’s Sustainability Committee, spoke at the work session to try and convince Riverhead to ban single use plastic shopping bags, something Southampton Town is considering and Southampton Village and East Hampton Village have done.

In May, members of the East End Supervisor’s Association said that they were aiming to pass an East End-wide plastic bag ban by Earth Day of 2015. Mr. Von Lehsten has since been making the rounds to East End towns and villages, trying to convince them to enact the ban.


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Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy and Mr. Wooten said they both support the plastic bag ban, while Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she wants to have a public hearing before deciding.

“Plastic bags are hurting our ecology,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “They don’t disintegrate.”

He said three large box stores in town — BJ’s Warehouse, Costco and Aldi — now ban plastic bags.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said that he’s already getting calls from the New York State Supermarket Retailers Association asking whether Riverhead plans to ban plastic shopping bags.

The supervisor believes there will be a lawsuit if the bag ban is enacted.

Mr. Von Lehsten said there has been no lawsuits filed against Southampton Village and East Hampton Village, which both adopted the ban in 2011.

“They don’t have the level of retailers that Riverhead does,” Mr. Walter said, alluding to the large national chain stores on Route 58. ”The lawsuit is going to happen.”

He suggested the five East End towns start a defense fund to pay the cost of any legal fees associated with a lawsuit challenging the plastic bags.

He feels the ban should be done on a county level, and not by individual towns.

“The single largest consumer item globally are single used plastic bags,” Mr. Von Lehsten said, quoting from various scientific studies. “We are using, by the lowest estimates, 500 billion to  one trillion bags annually.  That is a lot of plastic bags. And considering that these things never totally disintegrate, it is a gigantic environmental and health problem for us.”

He said the country goes through over 100 billion bags annually, and Southampton Town, uses 23 million bags annually.

“Only four to seven percent are recycled, and the rest goes into landfills or the ocean,” he said.

10/22/14 8:00am
10/22/2014 8:00 AM
A sandbar at the end of Pine Neck Road in Southold. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A sandbar at the end of Pine Neck Road in Southold. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

It’s no Mega Millions, but 19 Suffolk County homeowners will soon hit the lottery in a county drawing to test new wastewater treatment systems.

Suffolk County officials are seeking homeowners willing to offer their properties as testing sites for advanced wastewater treatment systems, in hopes of finding a system suitable for use in individual homes.  (more…)