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Dec 6, 2016 1:10 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Citing Low Salinity Levels In Bay, Southampton Town Trustees Will Open Mecox Cut Again

A bayman looks for shellfish in Mecox Bay. BY GREG WEHNER
Dec 7, 2016 5:38 PM

The Southampton Town Trustees unanimously agreed on Monday to open the Mecox Cut for the fourth time since October, citing extremely low salinity levels in Mecox Bay.

Presently, the average salinity in the bay is 7.5 parts per thousand, or ppt, well below the 10 ppt that the Town Trustees view as the threshold in determining when they should open and close the cut.

Trustee Eric Shultz told the board on Monday that he has never seen the salinity levels in Mecox Bay this low. “I’d personally like to see it around 15,” Town Trustee President Ed Warner Jr. added during Monday’s meeting. “That’s the optimal salinity for shellfish to grow.”

Mecox Bay is home to a large population of shellfish and finfish, and keeping the salinity levels at a healthy level is vital to their survival, according to Mr. Warner.

Between October and November, the Trustees opened the cut three times, costing town taxpayers a total of $18,690. But the Trustees say each time it was opened during that period, the cut closed up quickly, never allowing a proper flush of the bay, contributing to the poor salinity levels.

This time, the window to open the cut began on Tuesday, December 6, and will run through Monday, January 16, according to the resolution approved by the board on Monday. No specific date has been selected as of earlier this week and, according to the Trustees, there are multiple variables that need to be weighed first.

“We are going to look at all the conditions before we set a date, and that determination has not been made yet,” Town Trustee Scott Horowitz said. “Tides, wind direction, velocity and sea conditions all factor in, and we would like to hit the most favorable conditions possible for a successful opening.”

The Trustees regularly use heavy equipment to dig a trench that connects the bay with the ocean. Opening the cut allows ocean water to flow in and out, flushing the bay and increasing its salinity.

When the cut is closed—either by Mother Nature or by the Trustees using heavy machinery—it can sometimes result in flooded basements following heavy rainfalls for those who own homes along the bay. Others prefer the cut to be closed to avoid erosion of the ocean beach in front of their properties. And some boaters, meanwhile, often want the cut closed in the summer to maintain water levels in the bay. The Trustees are charged with balancing those concerns while also addressing the salinity of the bay.

Managing the cut is an important task, but nothing has ever been added to the Trustees’ book of rules—known as the “Blue Book”—to outline what they can and cannot do when it comes to opening and closing the cut. Instead, it continues to be opened and closed on a case-by-case basis.

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More like ow sanity levels on the Trustees
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Dec 7, 16 8:39 AM
Why even bother at this point?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Dec 7, 16 8:52 AM
Seems obvious - open the cut when the water salinity level is low, and do it at anytime of the year that it needs to be done. Is it me or do the trustees never open the cut during the summer anymore? Is it to keep water levels high so people can waterski in the blue green algae, or to bow to the property owners who are so clueless that they are living on an open septic pit? Mecox is nasty -you have to keep the water flowing to keep it balanced.
By windy1 (7), Southampton on Dec 7, 16 12:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why not focus on why Mecox is nasty in the first place? This is simply a Band-Aid solution which is costing tax-payers money and is only going to get worse.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Dec 7, 16 1:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
johnj: Your lack of knowledge on the subject at hand is incredible. The cut has been opened for the purpose of flushing out the fresh water and allowing clean ocean water to flow in for over a century and has worked well.The issue now is that some of the homeowners and the Tennis Club have threatened to sue the Trustees for doing their job!!! The plaintiffs purchased or built homes to the west of the cut knowing that periodically there are storms or high surf events while the cut is opened and ...more
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 7, 16 3:41 PM
You're ignoring the bigger picture. Your lack of knowledge about blue-green algae is astounding. Your inability to comprehend my post is also pretty incredible.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Dec 8, 16 9:46 AM
Let the bunkers wash on their beaches. Counter sue, Jay will back you.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Dec 7, 16 7:22 PM
Hamstringing the Trustees by making them jump through hoops to do their jobs is part of the issue. The blue green algae blooms are a relatively recent phenomenon in our fresh water lakes and ponds. You do know that Mill Pond empire into Mecox Bay right?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 9, 16 8:42 AM
1 member liked this comment