On Friday, I attended the “Press Sessions” event on water quality in Southampton. A group of elected officials, environmental professionals and high-profile residents were in attendance and part of the panel.
The main focus of the discussion was the complex issues and solutions surrounding Lake Agawam. Thankfully, there has been action begun by the formation of a conservancy similar to that of the Central Park Conservancy. In addition, this fall, the State Department of Environmental Conservation implemented a temporary pilot program that was able to skim the toxic algae off the surface using a filtration process. The results showed toxins were greatly diminished. However, the panelists all agreed that this is only the beginning.
Journalist Chuck Scarborough, a property owner on the lake and a member of the Lake Agawam Conservancy, spoke of the need to engage not only waterfront property owners but all property owners who own homes within the immediate watershed area. This entails replacement of residential septic systems, along with changes in landscaping practices to control the contaminants going into not just Lake Agawam but all water bodies within the towns and incorporated villages across the East End.
There are many methods that can be implemented in cleaning up the lake, from the continuation of skimming to dredging and filtration. And the evolution of septic technologies is all a part of what has to be done to clean up the water. There is no one solution, there is no silver bullet.
However, going forward, it is vital to expand upon public-private partnerships such as the conservancy to have an open dialogue with other government bodies at the state and local levels, all of which have a part to play.
I am glad to see action being taken. We have begun to move past the idea of head scratching and just talking about the issue, and have started to implement solutions that I hope will be cost effective and achieve results necessary for a clean and healthy environment. We must all work together to get things done.
Joseph R. McLoughlin
Mr. McLoughlin is a member of the Southampton Village Planning Commission — Ed.
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