Since fall of 2016 the Village of Sag Harbor has been conducting ongoing water quality studies performed by Dr. Christopher Gobler. In these studies, it has been revealed that Sag Harbor’s water although generally good, suffers from two key problems. The first is nitrogen pollution which results in harmful algal blooms (“HAB’s”). HAB’s are a serious problem because they can suffocate the local aquatic life and make the water less pleasant to enjoy. The second problem is fecal coliform bacteria from birds, deer, dogs and small mammals, and humans. The source of this contamination is from storm water and onsite septic systems. The Village has been working on solutions for both problems. Almost $1,000,000 in grants have been given to the Village for rain gardens and other mitigating measures from the Community Preservation Fund (“CPF”) of both East Hampton Town and Southampton Town, the Town of Southampton, the Peconic Estuary Program (with funds from the EPA), and, recently, a Suffolk County ¼ % sales tax WQPRP grant. In addition, the permeable pavers along Bay St help mitigate storm water runoff. More installations are being designed and bid currently.
For those looking to check the water quality of local beaches in real time please visit the Long Island Beach and Water Quality app here https://somas.stonybrook.edu/longislandbeaches.
Many Sag Harbor homeowners can also do their part to help improve the Village water quality. Installing an Innovative/Alternative (“I/A”) septic system is one great way to help mitigate nitrogen pollution. With the help of various grants this can be done at little to no cost to the homeowner. For more information on I/A systems visit https://www.reclaimourwater.info/septicimprovementprogram.aspx.
Also, rain gardens can an attractive way homeowners can control stormwater. Also check out Peconic Estuary Partnerships. Residents are eligible for up to $500 reimbursement for buying native plants.