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Aug 25, 2015 5:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Updated Septic Systems Are Key To Stopping Shinnecock Bay Pollution, Experts Say

Aug 28, 2015 10:18 AM

All eight panelists attending Monday night’s Hampton Bays Civic Association meeting agreed that addressing the hamlet’s outdated residential septic systems is the next logical step to improve water quality in Shinnecock Bay.

Southampton Town Trustee Scott Horowitz, one of the panelists at the meeting held in the Southampton Town Community Center on Ponquogue Avenue, said a focus must be placed on those systems that, in some instances, are already sitting in the water due to low water tables. He even suggested that the town offer rebates to those homeowners who are interested in replacing their septic systems, a move that can prove to be cost prohibitive to many people.

“We’re really out of balance,” Mr. Horowitz said. “We need to use smart land decisions knowing that everything affects the bay.”

The biggest issue is the excessive amount of nitrogen that leaches into the groundwater from the older septic systems and eventually makes its way to surface waters, including the nearby bay. The best way to keep this from happening, according to several panelists, is by getting septic tanks regularly pumped and ensuring that all systems are in the very least meeting Suffolk County Department of Health standards.

The purpose of the meeting was to open a discussion between the panelists—who included water experts, as well as town and county officials—and the approximately 50 Hampton Bays residents in attendance. Their main focus was to pinpoint the best short-term solution to the problem as it pertains to Shinnecock Bay.

Some panelists suggested introducing more clams and shellfish into the bay, as they serve as filters and remove harmful nitrogen, and even suggested the possibility of flushing the bay with water from the ocean.

Though he said both are options, Bill Hillman, chief engineer at the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, also noted that immediate emphasis needs to be placed on improving septic tanks.

“These short-term solutions are taking your eye off the goal, which is septic,” Mr. Hillman said. “That’s really, in my mind, the solution. Everything else is just putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot [wound]].”

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Listen to president Horowitz, he may be right this time.
By Resident tax (186), Hampton bays ny on Aug 26, 15 3:21 PM
The only thing I hear Mr Horowitz offering is yet another plan to money from my pocket to someone else's.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Aug 26, 15 7:35 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By PoliticallyIncorrect (45), earth on Aug 26, 15 7:57 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By PoliticallyIncorrect (45), earth on Aug 27, 15 1:45 PM
Everyone stop breathing! This is nothing more than a concerted effort to force homeowners to run to government for another approval. It will then be tied to upgrading your CO and incur a larger cost. How about banning all fertilizers and pets. Get out while you can.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Aug 27, 15 3:44 PM
HMMM Seems as if Scotty got his name in the paper again. Run Scott run!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 27, 15 4:04 PM
The Chesapeake Bay area has dealt with this for 40 yrs now and should be used as a resource for improving the water quality. The only way to really fix septic systems is to eliminate them and get on a public Waste Water treatment system. In the long run its the only solution that will keep the septic fields from being a problem. Surface runoff which doesnt reach the septic fields must be treated too. Minimizing the use of fertilizers etc. Again look to the Chesapeake Bay regional regs. They ...more
By Baymen87 (135), Lugoff, SC on Sep 9, 15 9:51 AM