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Mar 14, 2018 11:54 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town To Hire Firm To Study Mill Pond

The Southampton Town Trustees met with Town Board members to discuss ways to remediate Mill Pond, which feeds into Mecox Bay. GREG WEHNER
Mar 14, 2018 11:54 AM

Southampton Town officials plan a new study to try to determine how to restore and manage Mill Pond, which, despite various projects over the years, remains plagued by high levels of phosphates and regular blue-green algae blooms.

Last week, Town Trustees Ed Warner, Scott Horowitz and Ann Welker met with Chris Schubert of the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as Marty Shea, the town’s chief environmental analyst, Steve Abramson from the Water Mill Citizens Advisory Committee, Dr. Stephen Souza from Princeton Hydro, and Town Board members to discuss the search for a solution for the Water Mill pond.

Dr. Souza proposed having his company conduct a study to find the source of phosphate loading into Mill Pond and then creating a management plan to lower the numbers. The idea, he said, is to collect data first before setting goals for improvement.

He said if there is a significant amount of phosphorus loading into the lake, it could take time to implement a management strategy. He compared it to maintaining a vehicle. “It takes a lot of effort, and it’s not something you just walk away from,” he said, adding that it will take money, though the amount is still not clear.

Town Board members have agreed to enter into a contract with Dr. Souza’s company to do the study, which will be conducted between April and September.

This is not the first time attempts have been made to clean up the lake.

In 2013, the town and the Trustees paid $259,000 to a Connecticut company, SePro, to spread Phoslock in the pond in hopes of removing phosphorus from the water.

Scientists at the time determined the high phosphorus levels were the main catalyst for the blooms of algae, which feed on the nutrient. Phosphorous is a common nutrient found in fertilizers and human and animal waste. Phoslock, a clay-like compound, was engineered to bond with phosphorus molecules and sink to the bottom, where they cannot be consumed by algae.

The 2013 treatment was to be the first of two applications that SePro prescribed for the pond. But the project was supposed to be done in coordination with a stormwater runoff abatement project.

The first phase of the project was to redesign the outflow from Deerfield Road into the pond to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff. A conceptualized second phase, which would have sought to greatly reduce the amount of rainwater that flows into the pond from farm fields, homes and roads to the north along Deerfield Road and Head of Pond Road, was shelved for redesign following logistical problems.

Mr. Warner said only 50 percent of the Phoslock had been used when 10 inches of rain brought the project to a halt because of water runoff that went into the pond.

Dr. Souza said Phoslock should not have been used unless the loading was completely driven by phosphorous. He noted that phosphorus is always being released by sediment.

Mr. Warner asked Dr. Souza if the large population of carp at the bottom of Mill Pond factor into stirring up phosphorous from the bottom of the lake during spawning season, and Dr. Souza said it could.

Mr. Warner said thousands of carp were removed from the pond using hull seine nets, and there are still thousands in the pond.

Another factor could be geese. Dr. Souza said four geese produce as much phosphorus in an ecosystem as a septic system. Mr. Shea said there are as many as 100 Canada geese that frequent the pond. “That’s a significant problem,” Dr. Souza replied.

Though the Town Board has not officially entered into an agreement with Dr. Souza, it is expected to approve a resolution this week. The Town Trustees noted they support working with the Town Board on clearing up Mill Pond, specifically because it feeds into Mecox Bay, which was stricken by an algae bloom last year.

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This will be on the house. The 5ft deep by 20ft wide swath of water coming from the farms on Deerfield rd when it rains is the culprit. The pollution of the wells with temech and nitrates are all from the Farms. It's the biggest scam ever pulled on people preserve open space while it pollutes your water. Most of the houses out here are only occupied a couple months out of the year there's no way they are polluting the groundwater. The biggest amount of nitrates is coming from Farmland folks wake ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 17, 18 6:57 PM
Thanks, DuPont.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 17, 18 7:19 PM
Farmers are not the only polluters in mill pond. You can't tell me the houses don't add to the problem. How about all the geese that held up there at nights.
Agawam had thousands of geese nightly for years. Now there is nothing for then to eat in the ponds.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Mar 20, 18 1:09 PM