Pointing The Finger - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1836919

Pointing The Finger

I know Evelyn Konrad is prosecuting a zoning dispute, but she is wrong regarding the causes of pollution in Old Town Pond (and other waters throughout Southampton Village) [“What Has Changed,” Letters, 27east.com, November 15].

Ms. Konrad answers her own rhetorical question regarding the source of pollution at Old Town Pond by citing “three new mansions” and “four new roads.” This is akin to blaming a massive avalanche on last night’s flurries. While certainly not solving the problem, neither the new mansions nor the new roads are substantial causes of our dire water quality challenges.

As a renowned water quality expert has said: If we could erase the last 30 years of development in Southampton Village — including every mansion, expanded home and subdivision like the one Ms. Konrad cites — we would still have 99 percent of the problem. The avalanche has been building for decades and would have happened even without the “flurries” of recent or proposed development.

The major culprit is septic “technology,” which for a century has dumped untreated wastewater into the ground, out of the reach of natural microbiological, thermal and root activity that would otherwise treat it. This technology exists in nearly every home, school and business in our village.

Our waters were poisoned by the cumulative effect of these systems over decades, followed closely by the use of fertilizers and pesticides, first by farmers and now by homeowners pursuing their illusory (and ironic) “perfect landscape.”

By conveniently pointing the finger of blame at others, those who demonize recent development do a tremendous disservice: All of us have created our current challenges. In fact, a year-round resident living in a modest three-bedroom home similar to Ms. Konrad’s likely contributes more excess nitrogen into our groundwater than an eight-bedroom mansion used as a summer residence. And if that mansion has an innovative/alternative (I/A) treatment system, its contribution is a mere fraction of the seemingly more modest home’s.

Lastly, the assertion that the village’s work to clean Old Town Pond “will be a totally wasted effort” if one subdivision goes forward is more than hyperbole: It’s completely false. This claim ignores the substantial facts, science and work underlying the village’s strategic management plan for Old Town Pond. In fact, since new homes on those subdivided parcels will likely be required to install I/A systems, they constitute no material obstacle whatsoever to the village’s efforts.

Rather than mischaracterizing our very real water challenges to use as a pawn in a zoning dispute, Ms. Konrad and others could address those challenges by installing I/A systems (subsidized in most cases by available rebates) and supporting the village’s investment in a sewer system.

Rob Coburn


As noted, Ms. Konrad’s letter, published in print this week, appeared on the website 27east.com last week — Ed.