Over 40 people attended Friday’s meeting of the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals, but not many were able to speak, as experts hired by the Maidstone Club to vet its decision to improve its golf course irrigation took up the time discussing the groundwater situation.
Andrew Goldstein, the board chairman, told the crowd, which slowly dissipated as the meeting surpassed the two-hour mark, that the board would look over the written materials submitted by the experts and meet again to discuss the application in two weeks. In addition to the planned construction of two wells, a pump station, and an irrigation pond, a third well was not included on the application, so it needs to be re-noticed.
In the meantime Brian Blum, a certified professional geologist with Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, addressed the board. Mr. Blum is an expert in groundwater management.
“For every square mile out here,” he said, “the aquifer recharges at about a million gallons a day.” The average rainfall is around 45 inches a year, he explained, and “about half that water percolates right into the ground.”
He called the Long Island aquifer that serves East Hampton “extraordinarily prolific.”
The concern, as voiced by neighbors and others, is that the amount of water drawn from the proposed wells will affect Hook Pond.
“If we pumped for an entire day,” Mr. Blum said, “we would take around 360,000 gallons, which is a reasonable maximum of what the club would use in a day. Hypothetically, if we shut the pond off, and drew directly from the pond, it translates to less than two-tenths of an inch of water.”
“But it’s not from the pond,” he continued. “We’re 1,000 feet away, 45 feet below ground surface.”
A permit from the State Department of Environmental Conservation allows the Maidstone Club to use up to 25 million gallons of water a year. The amount used has been 9.2 million gallons.
“But it’s a worse-case scenario,” Mr. Blum explained. “I don’t think they’re going to pump 25 million gallons a year, but that’s what the permit allows, so that’s what we’re looking at.”
Stuart Z. Cohen, an expert on the effects of nutrient runoff in groundwater, presented a pie chart showing that in the four-mile radius of the watershed where the Maidstone Club is based, only 10 percent of runoff comes from the golf course. “Most of it comes from septic, home lawns, animal and pet waste,” he said.
He also observed that if the grass were healthier, from better irrigation, the density of the turf would increase and therefore there would be less sedimentary runoff.
Mr. Goldstein said the board was treating the application as a Type 1 action in accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which means that the proposed actions may have a significant adverse effect on the environment. “It’s also adjacent to Dunemere Lane, which is part of the East Hampton Historical District,” Mr. Goldstein said. The club had been pursuing the application as an unlisted action.
Linda James, a neighbor who has lived on Hook Pond for 45 years, issued a letter to the zoning board.
“For those preservationists in our community dedicated to the conservation of East End natural resources, of which Hook Pond is one of the most visible treasures, these technical reports provide a collective baseline for future monitoring of the Pond,” Ms. James wrote. “But the fact that these reports are being used to justify expanding a golf course’s high technology watering system or mollifying a community’s concern about how its public water is being used should certainly raise a red flag for those charged — by Chapter 163 in the East Hampton Village Code on freshwater wetlands — to ‘preserve, protect and conserve the wetlands located within the corporate bounds.’ ”
Ms. James asked that the board require a full environmental impact statement from the applicant.
The Maidstone Club is seeking a freshwater wetlands variance for a new irrigation system for its 27-hole golf course. At the last meeting when the application was discussed, in May, Mr. Goldstein said he anticipated a “somewhat lengthy process.”