Consultants working for Southampton Town have begun making preparations for next week’s first-of-its-kind experimental treatment of Mill Pond with nearly 100,000 pounds of clay-like minerals that town officials and pondside residents hope will begin to address chronic water quality problems in the 30-acre lake.
On Monday, tractor-trailers delivered 42 pallets of the clay-like mineral, known as Phoslock, to the Water Mill Community Club’s field house, which the Southampton Town Trustees leased for the next two weeks for $850. On Tuesday, a town maintenance crew installed a floating dock on the northeastern shore of the pond, where Deerfield Road bends just a few feet from the shoreline. A 24-foot pontoon boat will tie up to the dock during the four days next week it will be used to spread the granules of Phoslock throughout the pond.
“We’re excited to see this getting under way,” Town Trustee Fred Havemeyer said. “It’s really happening. We’ve got everything falling into place.”
The spreading of the Phoslock is scheduled to begin on Monday morning. A single boat will be loaded from the back of flatbed trucks at “Muller’s corner” on Deerfield Road and will spray a mixture of water and the Phoslock granules across the surface of the pond.
Phoslock is an engineered mineral developed by Australian scientists specifically to rein in algae blooms in ponds and reservoirs with high levels of phosphorous. The Phoslock granules will bond with molecules of phosphorus in the water and sink to the bottom of the pond, trapping the phosphorus there where algae growing in the warmth of late summer cannot use it to fuel its growth.
The use of Phoslock has been championed over the last three years by the Town Trustees and a group of Water Mill residents who live on or near the shores of the pond as a potential quick-fix solution to the choking algae blooms. The group has said the Phoslock application, which will cost the town some $434,000 over the next two years, will have to be paired with efforts to greatly check the amount of rainwater runoff that drains into the pond from roadways and fertilized lawns on the edge of the pond. The town is set to begin a stormwater abatement project along the whole of Deerfield Road this year and residents and the Trustees have said they will lead a campaign to curtail the use of fertilizers on lawns that abut the pond and to broaden natural buffers of wild brush between the water and manicured lawns.
The Trustees tussled with the Town Board for more than a year over funding for the project. The contracts with the American dealer of Phoslock, SePro, were only inked following a $200,000 contribution last year to the town’s newly created Water Quality Protection Fund by a Mecox Bay homeowner, money that was earmarked specifically to be used in the Mecox Bay watershed. The Trustees are contributing $50,000 toward the $283,000 cost of this year’s treatment, and another $50,000 next year. Additional annual treatments, costing between $30,000 and $50,000 per year, are expected to be needed in the foreseeable future.