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Peconic Baykeeper: Consider This a Wake Up Call

Kevin McAllister, the Peconic Baykeeper, releases his annual State of the Bays report. The outlook, he says, is bad.

In celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act on Tuesday, Kevin McAllister, the Peconic Baykeeper, not only delivered a grim outlook for East End waterways, but petitioned the Department of Environmental Conservation to take action to reduce nitrogen levels now — or face a lawsuit.

"This is a wake up call," McAllister said. "I am trying to sound the alarm here. There is a fire in the room."

Pointing to his newly released Peconic Baywatch report (attached as a PDF) McAllister said if the DEC and Suffolk County continue to "slip down the slope, our waterways are going to become foul."

"They won't support marine life and they will no longer be swimable. People will get sick. We are seeing signs of that now," said McAllister, referring to the early return of red tide.

McAllister's report indicates that there are already countless waterways on the East End that have been listed on the federal impaired water list with nine more across Suffolk County expected to be added when the new report is released later this year.

Already on the list are Quantuck Bay, Shinnecock Bay, Shinnecock Inlet, Flanders Bay, Peconic River, Weesuck Creek and Sagaponack Pond.

To remedy the situation, McAllister reiterated what he has been saying for years: Nitrogen levels must be reduced.

To reduce levels, McAllister said the DEC and the county must enact stricter standards for nitrogen effluence from sewage and require that the latest technology is used.

In addition, McAlliser said he wants to see the DEC and county get in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, as well as create a comprehensive monitoring system for all waterways.

He made those notions clear to the DEC on Monday when he submitted a petition calling for action. If his petition falls on deaf ears, McAllister said, litigation is the next step.

"There is a cost [associated with using the latest and greatest technology] but let's dispense with the cost. Let's assign a cost to a polluted bay. What will that do to the economy of Long Island?" McAllister said, pointing out that even if he had a magic wand and could convert all the septic systems to the best today, "it would take decades to purge our polluted bays."

"This is bad news. The residents of Suffolk County better start tuning in and demanding, not asking, that this gets figured out and that the county needs to deal with it. There is no room for complacency."

Related:

  • Baykeeper Says Biotoxin is Linked to Cesspools
  • Despite No Grade Higher Than C+, Report Says Waterways Rebounding
  • Baykeeper: Water Quality at Crisis Point
  • Town Board Talks Nitrogen in Bays
  • Red Tide Appears Early This Summer
  • Stony Brook Takes on $3M Project to Restore Shinnecock Bay
Kerrie Graham September 19, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Nitrogen from sewage is one thing but what about the gloriously green lawns along the bays which suggest lawn fertilizers are in use. I hope the baykeeper is getting the message out about that too. Nobody else is.
Billy J September 19, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Wait, wasn't the last time a wake up call? And two years ago? Oh and I remember it was definitely a wake up call in 2003 and we ''had made a lot of progress but still have a long way to go'' in 2001 and in 1998 another wake up call. Most of the time a wake up call is free, with the Peconic Bay Keeper, wake up calls are actually calls for donations.
Deborah Klughers September 19, 2012 at 08:57 PM
In our area, the main input of nitrogen into our surface waters is via groundwater. Even so, reducing or eliminating chemical fertilizers is a very good thing-especially for those who live directly on (or near) the water. To find out what your soil needs, get a soil test. If the pH is off, nutrients cannot absorb properly-you may also find out you don’t need to add anything to your lawn. IF YOU MUST USE CHEMICALS, try to use as little as possible. Excess will simply runoff into our waters or leach into the groundwater. Fertilize in the fall- applying in the spring can cause excess weed growth, and April showers can wash it all away anyway. There are alternatives! Leave grass clippings on the lawn; you can save money while adding nitrogen and other organic matter to your lawn. Plant clover- it adds nitrogen to your soil naturally-and honeybees LOVE IT! Use organic fertilizer! Chemical and natural fertilizers both do the job- but organic products are easier in the planet. Composting is a good way to add nutrients to gardens and flower beds. It also saves water! Check out my Patch blog on phosphorus, “Just say no to phosphorus” (phosphorous is the bad guy in fresh water systems, just like nitrogen is in salt water) http://easthampton.patch.com/blog_posts/blogger-just-say-no-to-phosphorous and then SAY NO to nitrogen as well. Suffolk County passed a law on nitrogen use- this link http://healthylawns.suffolkcountyny.gov/word/index.htm has information & flyers you can share.
Gwynn Schroeder September 19, 2012 at 09:10 PM
For years, many advocacy groups have been trying to raise awareness and have had some successes - but it is a hard slog. Education goes just so far, those who care about these issues must get involved, become organized and push for laws and enforcement of the laws that protect our waterways.
Stinker September 20, 2012 at 10:05 AM
If we don't give money to Kevin McAllister now, people will get sick, everything in the water will die and the water won't be swimmable. There is a fire in the room, if we slip down the slope the waterways will become foul. If you buy the Chicken Little hardcover on Amazon right now, you only need to spend 15 more dollars for free shipping!
John C September 20, 2012 at 10:20 AM
Maybe its time for the bay keeper to go on to a different job. I suggest he clean cesspools
Stinker September 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM
You're onto something. Why doesn't he close the Peconic Bay Keeper and open up an organic, healthy cesspool and organic landscaping firm and get all of the clients and then he will be rich. Oh wait, that's work. Nevermind.
Hazel Wilkonson the First September 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Ignoramuses like stinker automatically attack anyone trying to do good. Zombie reactionaries may not care about water quality, but sane, thoughtful people do.
Stinker September 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM
What is the proper derogatory title for someone who attacks a private citizen when they express an opinion different from their own?
SadderBudweiser September 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Democrat?
n.mcgrath September 20, 2012 at 12:33 PM
this is not even a debatable topic.Of course we are more polluted than ever.All the little yellow do not enter pesticide applied lawns have also contributed to the toxic runnoff. Everyone is entitled to their oppinion but really folks, how can anyone truthfully think we are not destroying our natural resources at a devastating rate. I say that if anyone were to go into any restaurant anywhere with a 1000 gallon lobster tank and have just one person defacate in it no one would eat any lobster soooo, put that into perspective as to what we have done to our bays. Wake up!...please.
n.mcgrath September 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM
opinion,(sic)
Concerned September 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM
The bays and creeks are priceless and must be protected. Laws and enforcement must be enacted and enforced. I live on an very sensitive eco system that feeds and protects the bay. I am a steward to the marsh land and I feel accountable to future generations to protect the bay and marsh lands. The laws should be enacted to require homeowners to inspect their septic systems every two years, if they live on a waterway, marsh, creek, river, etc. Waterfront homes should determine the location of the septic system and make sure its meets strict set backs from the waterways, etc. If not it must be moved. All homeowners on the waterways must be required to have a berm along their property which embanks the waterways to stop all water from the lawns from flowing into the waterways. The towns, marinas, beach parking lots, boat launch ramps must be required to design drainage to capture runoff water BEFORE it enters the bay or waterways. No more new bulkheads in creeks. No helicopter flights over our the Peconic Bays, creeks and marsh lands as the spew exhaust that causes acidity into our estuary. Finally, all powerboat engines over a period of time need to be four strokes as they burn cleaner. The bays and creeks and marsh lands are national treasures and they must be protected.
Juss Bean Honest September 20, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Kerrie, I really agree. We have to stop thinking that a golf course-type lawn looks good. It's a toxic dump. Why these lawns are allowed to butt up against waterways is beyond me. It's illegal and it's never enforced.
Juss Bean Honest September 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM
So you're saying that the Baykeeper is getting, um rich? Seriously? Or maybe he's just a guy who really does care about how badly the waters are being treated and it's his job to bring awareness to what is now a huge community. Please remember he's just one guy, who as far as I can tell is doing his job.
Deborah Klughers September 20, 2012 at 02:51 PM
To add to Concerned post above.. NO MORE helicopters manned by Vector Control spewing methoprene over our marshlands! That stuff kills more than mosquitos and there are alternatives! New construction close to our waters should use denitrifying septic systems- which are approved for use in Sufolk County!
Stinker September 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I'm not against the protection of the water? Since when does it is an efficient use of time to gather donors into a room for a press conference to tell them about what you want to do. Why is there a middleman between the DEC and the water? The DEC doesn't answer to the Peconic Bay Keeper?
Hazel Wilkonson the First September 20, 2012 at 06:26 PM
You're not expressing an opinion, you're attacking someone for doing his job
Hazel Wilkonson the First September 20, 2012 at 06:28 PM
If you have to ask, you have no idea how the world functions. Crawl back into mommy's basement and continue throwing stones at passersby until you decide to educate yourself.
free wheeling September 20, 2012 at 07:59 PM
To Stinker: what you call a person like Hazel Wilkonson is "on target".
doug September 20, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Stinker is the typical bury your head in the sand kind of person who would rather not acknowledge that there is a problem . The baykeeper seems to be doing his job and really cares about the quality of one of our most precious resources .
Stinker September 20, 2012 at 09:25 PM
The job isn't to care. If that was the case we are all Peconic Baykeepers and should get paid a salary for caring.
T818 September 21, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Statistics, said Dunn, is what the group is basing its actions on, pointing out that Hampton Bays has the highest population in the Town of Southampton with 13,603 residents. That number, he said, translates to a density factor of 1,075 people per square mile as opposed to 339 people per square mile in every other hamlet in the town.
T818 September 21, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Do the math. Forget about toxic run off....there is a greater percentage of people ILLEGALLY using our waters for garbage.... be it from the beach, over the bridge or their own backyards. Housing zoned for one family should be for one family. Only OWNERS of homes in Hampton Bays should be afforded the priveledge of enjoying this hamlet that the TAXPAYERS contribute to. SLUMLORDS.... look it up if you need to...... should be fined for the havoc they have created on this beautiful piece of earth. Is anyone concerned??
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bchbum11968 June 16, 2013 at 09:52 AM
We better start listening to the Bay Keeper, he is dead on. The waterways are our life blood and greatest economic resource, if we are not careful..all the McMasions won't be worth a damn thing. Stop your greed folks!!!!!

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